By: The Negros Times
Watchdog group, EcoWaste Coalition has raised concerns about the presence of mercury in cosmetics sold in Western Visayas. The group found banned mercury-tainted cosmetics on sale in 9 cities in Panay and Negros Island.
Imported face creams with dangerously high amounts of Mercury, a hazardous element forbidden in cosmetics, are being sold in Western Visayas, according to the toxics watchdog organization.
Despite a government-imposed prohibition since 2017 in the Philippines, the EcoWaste Coalition was able to purchase mercury-laden Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream from cosmetic stores in nine cities in the area, according to a news release.
According to Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition, their investigation shows that banned mercury-laden skin care products have penetrated the local cosmetic market in Western Visayas. She said:
"Local government, health and police authorities need to send off law enforcement teams without delay to confiscate the forbidden products and hold the culprits accountable".
The group purchased 31 samples of the said Goree products and one sample of Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream from cosmetic vendors in Iloilo City, Iloilo Province; Roxas City, Capiz Province; and Bacolod, Escalante, Kabankalan, San Carlos, Silay, Talisay, and Victorias, cities in Negros Occidental Province during test buy operations from May 14-17, 2022.
The Goree samples, which cost P250-350 apiece, and the single Collagen Plus, which cost P99, were generally obtained from cosmetic product businesses and booths located in city centers, such as public markets and shopping malls.
Following that, the samples were taken to the EcoWaste Coalition's headquarters in Quezon City, where they were screened for mercury using an Olympus Vanta M Series X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer.
The evaluated 31 Goree samples were found positive for mercury in the range of 22,320 to 30,680 parts per million (ppm) based on XRF screening findings, much above the 1 ppm limit set by the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive and the Minamata Convention in Mercury. Mercury levels in the Collagen night cream were 2,060 parts per million (the day cream was negative for mercury).
As claimed by Goree Cosmetics on their official company website, there are fake Goree products circulating in the market worldwide that may contain high levels of Mercury on it, they assure their original Goree products are safe and mercury-free, prepared and recommended by their team of "skin specialists".
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Advisory No. 2017-289 on October 30, 2017, warning consumers against purchasing and using the aforementioned Goree goods owing to their mercury concentration. In 2017 and again in 2021, the FDA issued a public health warning about the illegal Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream.
International and national health agencies have cautioned that skin lightening cosmetics containing mercury are dangerous to one's health. Skin rashes, discolouration, and scarring, as well as a reduction in skin's resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, are all side effects of mercury exposure in such products. Consumers have been advised that repeated applications of direct and extended exposure via the skin can harm the brain, neurological system, and kidneys.
The organization will write to Bacolod City Mayor-elect Alfredo Benitez, re-elected Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treas, and other municipal chief executives to inform them of the public health threat and to urge them to take prompt action.
"The continuing trade of hazardous cosmetics in the domestic market points to the most important role of local governments, particularly the City Mayors and the city health department chiefs, in ensuring compliance to product and chemical safety laws, including the Minamata Convention on Mercury, in their areas of jurisdiction," the EcoWaste Coalition concluded.