EcoWaste identifies another skin whitener contaminated with mercury
The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition today bared another skin whitening cosmetic from Thailand that is contaminated with mercury.
“Based on the chemical screening we conducted, 88 Whitening Night Cream contains mercury, a highly toxic chemical not permitted in cosmetic products above the trace amount limit of one part per million (ppm),” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“To protect human health and the environment, we urge the authorities to ensure full compliance to regulations already in place banning mercury in cosmetics and bring the violators to justice,” she said. “The safest way for citizens, especially women and girls, to protect themselves against mercury exposure is to accept their natural skin color and reject chemical whiteners.”
As per X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysis, the said whitening cream had 3,521 ppm of mercury, surpassing the one ppm limit set by the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive and the Minamata Convention on Mercury. The latter also provided for a legally binding 2020 deadline after which the manufacture, import or export of cosmetics with mercury content above one ppm shall not be allowed.
The group bought the product, which is not authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), from an online seller for P390. The product is marked “made in Thailand” with labeling information written in both English and Thai. As indicated on the label, the product was manufactured on October 20, 2022, or after the 2020 phase-out date for mercury-containing cosmetics under the Minamata Convention.
As highlighted on the label, 88 Whitening Night Cream contains alpha arbutin, ginseng, glutathione, and Vitamin C complex. Mercury or related mercury compounds are not mentioned on the ingredient’s list.
Applying the cream on the face every night before going to bed will supposedly yield “good results in a week,” including making the skin look younger, brightening the skin, treating acne and pimples, reducing acne scars, freckles and dark spots, among other claims.
88 Whitening Night Cream is the latest Thai cosmetic product exposed by the EcoWaste Coalition for containing mercury. To date, the group has identified 12 mercury-containing whitening cosmetics illegally imported from Thailand, including 11 facial creams and one underarm cream.
The other products found by the group to be laden with varying levels of mercury up to 44,540 ppm include Lady Gold Seaweed Gluta/Super Gluta Brightening, five variants of Dr. Yanhee, two variants of Dr. Wuttisak, White Nano, Meyyong Seaweeds Super Whitening, and 88 Total White Underarm Cream.
As said by the World Health Organization (WHO), “adverse health effects of the inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening creams and soaps include: kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, anxiety, depression, psychosis and peripheral neuropathy.”
“Mercury in soaps, creams and other cosmetic products is eventually discharged into waste water. The mercury then enters the environment, where it becomes methylated and can enter the food chain as highly toxic methylmercury in fish,” said WHO, warning further that “pregnant women who consume fish containing methylmercury can transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can result in neurodevelopmental deficits in the children.”
The EcoWaste Coalition will notify both the Philippine and Thai FDA about its findings and call for immediate regulatory action to protect public health and the environment from mercury-added cosmetics.
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