By Chito Chavez
Environmental watchdog EcoWaste Coalition has lashed groups selling mercury-laced skin lightening cosmetics by third-party sellers in popular e-commerce sites.
“We find the unabated sale of dangerous skin whitening products in online shopping sites deeply disturbing and unacceptable,” said Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
Dizon insisted these popular e-commerce platforms should not allow their sites to be used for the unethical and unlawful trade of hazardous chemical-laden cosmetics.
He reminded them of the dangers noting that this can expose their customers to mercury and put their health and the environment at risk.
“Considering the susceptibility of online shoppers to fall victims to deceptive advertising and to adulterated and counterfeit goods, we ask e-commerce sites to police goods being sold by third-party merchants while our policy makers craft necessary regulatory controls,” he added.
As the top e-commerce websites in the country, Dizon asked Lazada, Shopee, and eBay to show their support for the Minamata Convention on mercury by promptly taking down third-party ads for mercury-laden cosmetics.
The Minamata Convention, which the Philippine government has already signed but not yet ratified, has targeted a global phase-out of skin whitening cosmetics such as creams, lotions, and soaps with mercury above one part per million (ppm) by 2020.
In its monitoring activity on Wednesday, EcoWaste reported that mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics, including those banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are being sold by online entrepreneurs. These products are Ailke Boost Luster Superior Whitening, Ailke Perfection Salvation Rosy Whitening A + B Set, Angel Placenta Day & Night Cream, Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream, Goree Beauty Cream, Meiyong (Seaweed) Super Whitening, Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, Erna Whitening Cream, Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, and Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream.
Based on its findings, EcoWaste said that Ailke Perfect Salvation, Angel Placenta, Collagen Plus Vit E, Erna, Goree, and Jiaoli are among those already banned by the FDA for containing mercury above the trace amount limit of 1 ppm.
As per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, mercury is not allowed as ingredient in cosmetic product formulations.
Chemical screening conducted by the EcoWaste using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device detected high concentrations of mercury on the other products such as Ailke Boost Luster Superior Whitening (31,100 ppm), Aneeza Gold Beauty Cream(21,600 ppm), and Meiyong (Seaweed) Super Whitening (1,563 ppm), which the FDA has yet to ban.
Mercury in skin-whitening products inhibits the production of melanin pigment leading to a “fairer” skin tone.
However, mercury can cause damage to the nervous, immune, and renal systems and also causes skin discoloration, rashes, and scarring, as well as reduce dermal resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, the EcoWaste said.
The group added that mercury can also affect the endocrine and reproductive systems as studies have shown that increased mercury levels in the body have been linked with hormonal and menstrual disorders, infertility, and miscarriage.
“Babies in the womb are not spared as mercury can cross the placenta during pregnancy and affect the developing brain and nervous system causing cognitive development problems. Fetuses, infants, and young children are susceptible to mercury toxicity,” the group concluded.