Mercury-laden skin lightening creams being sold in PH online

Published November 28, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Madelaine B. Miraflor

A lot of skin lightening cream brands containing mercury, a heavy metal and dangerous neurotoxin, is still being sold in the Philippines through various online channels, said environmental justice group BAN Toxics.

This is despite the long-standing attempt of the Philippine government to make the country mercury-free to comply with the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

A new research by a global alliance of non-government organizations (NGOs) working to eliminate mercury pollution showed that throughout 2019, a lot of countries, including the Philippines, have failed to regulate the sale of skin-lightening products with mercury levels ranging from 40 part per million (ppm) to over 130,000 ppm. The legal limit is only 1ppm.

Other countries selling skin-lightening products with high mercury content are India, Nigeria, South Africa, Bangladesh, Uganda, among others.

International coalition Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) said that more than two-thirds of these products were bought online from such internet marketers as Amazon, eBay, BidorBuy, Lazada, Daraz, Flipkart and Jumia.

In the Philippines, BAN Toxics said mercury-laced products were also available in Divisoria and are also being sold by online sellers on Facebook.

”Filipinos, particularly Filipino women, are being exposed to harm because mercury-laced products are still being made available to the public. Policies and implementation gaps must be addressed as soon as possible to prevent these mercury-laced skin lightening products from poisoning clueless individuals who buy these creams,” Reynalo San Juan, BAN Toxics Executive Director, said.

He then said that the Philippine government must ratify the Minamata Convention to help protect the Filipino public from these kinds of merchandise.

In 2013, the Philippines was one of the 128 countries that signed the Minamata Convention, which regulates the use and trade of mercury.

Minamata Convention is said to be the world’s first legally binding treaty to phase out mercury, a highly toxic substance that poses threats to the environment and human health.

Six years after the Philippines committed to this treaty, the country has not yet ratified the Minamata Convention.

For her part, Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Project Manager at the European Environmental Bureau and International Co-coordinator of the ZMWG, said Internet retailers like Amazon and eBay must stop these Illegal products from being sold on their sites, as they have recently pledged to do in the EU.
In 2018, leading online retailers signed a ‘Product Safety Pledge’ to remove dangerous products.