Think before you add to cart: EcoWaste Coalition says some skin-whitening products laced with mercury

Published March 2, 2021, 10:54 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

Watch out, online shoppers–particularly those who love to buy skin-whitening or lightening products.


Toxics watchdog EcoWaste Coalition warned consumers Tuesday, March 2 against the purchase of these beauty products, which allegedly contain the banned poisonous substance mercury.

The same day, EcoWaste Coalition launched the report “Toxic Exposé: Online Trade of Mercury-Containing Skin Whitening Cosmetics in the Philippines” to substantiate their claim. The launch was a day ahead of the much-hyped “3.3” or March 3 online shopping bonanza of e-commerce giants Lazada and Shopee.

The group said that out of the 65 sample products procured from online dealers and subsequently screened for mercury using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, 40 were found to contain mercury above 1 ppm.  

“Of these 40 samples, 38 had mercury in excess of 1,000 ppm, 25 with over 5,000 ppm, 19 with more than 15,000 ppm, and 5 were loaded with mercury above 25,000 ppm.  None of the 65 samples are duly notified or registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),” said the environmental group.

Thony Dizon, chemical safety campaigner of EcoWaste, said the findings of the report “should push online shopping and social media sites to strictly disallow and monitor the use of their far-reaching platforms to advertise and sell adulterated, counterfeit and unauthorized cosmetics such as those with mercury content.”

“To avoid being harmed by mercury in cosmetics, we appeal to all Filipinos to accept our natural skin color, refuse chemical whiteners, and resist color-based bias, prejudice and discrimination,” he emphasized.

The EcoWaste Coalition said it provided the FDA a copy of their report in advance “for its reference and action.”

The group further appealed to e-commerce platforms and social media sites to ban the sale of adulterated, counterfeit and unauthorized cosmetics and for them to keep an eye on and take down non-compliant product ads.