By Chito Chavez
A Quezon City-based environmental group and toxic watchdog asked the government to put an end on the sale of disposable wet wipes containing hazardous chemicals.
EcoWaste Coalition also appealed to the consumers to carefully examine the product profiles of these items before purchasing any of them and to ensure that they only buy safe wet wipes.
The group expressed deep alarm after its inspection teams discovered the abundance in the market of cheap pre-moistened wet wipes with banned preservatives and biocides.
In letters sent to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the group reported the widespread sale in Divisoria, Manila of baby wipes containing the combination preservatives methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone (MCI/MIT), which are chemical compounds that can trigger allergic contact dermatitis (ACD).
FDA Advisory No. 2017-006, which was reiterated through FDA Advisory No. 2018-034, pointed out that methylisothiazolinone is “prohibited in leave-on products.”
As per the European Union (EU), “for leave-on cosmetic products (including ‘wet wipes’), no safe concentrations of MIT for induction of contact allergy or elicitation have been adequately demonstrated.”
“We are concerned that wet wipes containing MCI/MIT, including some products that bear Cosmetic Notification No., are still sold in the market. The continued sale of these supposedly hygiene products is disturbing as these preservatives on leave-on products is a common cause of ACD causing skin rash or lesion and other signs and symptoms,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
Dong Bang, Dong Bang Yao Baby Tender, Family Treasure Baby Tender, Sky Fire Baby Tender, and Giggley Baby Wipes, which are sold for P20-P25 per pack, listed MCI/MIT among their ingredients.
The group also reported finding “Super Soft Skin Care Wet Towel,” sold for P19/pack, which contains iodopropynyl butylcarbamate or IPBC that is “banned in products intended for children under 3 years of age” in the EU. IPBC belongs to the carbamate family of biocides.
“While the product we found is not called ‘Baby Wipes,’ its packaging contains an image of a baby, plus a ‘Triple Baby Protection’ mark, which may entice consumers to use it to clean baby’s face, hands, bottom, and genital,” said Dizon.
Product alerts issued by European countries state that “IPBC may penetrate the skin of the infant and may have an adverse effect on the function of the thyroid gland.”
To protect young consumers against ACD and other health problems due to skin exposure to MCI/MIT and IPBC, the EcoWaste Coalition requested the FDA to issue the necessary public health warnings and to cause the removal of non-compliant products from store shelves nationwide.
“Consumers should carefully read the product labels, avoid wipes containing MCI/MIT and IPBC and shun those that have not been assessed by health authorities for their quality and safety,” the group emphasized.
The group also advised consumers not to flush used wet wipes or throw them on streets or canals as these may clog the drainage and sewer systems, block anti-flood pumping stations, damage wastewater pumps, and add to the plastic pollution of water bodies and the oceans.