Group blasts online sale of Mercury-tainted skin whitening products


AN environmental and health group on Saturday scored the proliferation of advertisements by third party sellers at online shopping websites for banned mercury-laden skin lightening products from Pakistan.

Despite being banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ads for “Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera” and “Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream” can be seen at Lazada and OLX online shopping platforms, the EcoWaste Coalition said.

On October 30, 2017, the FDA issued an advisory warning the public not to use the Goree cosmetics after finding mercury, a harmful chemical that is not allowed in cosmetic product formulations, above the maximum trace amount of one part per million (ppm).

“(These) products have not gone through the verification process of the agency and have not been issued the proper authorization in the form of acknowledged cosmetic notifications,” the advisory said.

“We request the management of Lazada, OLX and other online shopping platforms not to allow their sites to be used for the unlawful sale of consumer products such as cosmetics that have not passed the quality and safety verification by the authorities,” Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition, said.

“The ban on the sale of products containing health and environmentally-damaging chemicals such as mercury also applies to the online marketplace and should be strictly followed,” he pointed out.

“We urge Lazada and OLX to immediately delist the ads for the prohibited Goree cosmetics for the health and well-being of their valued customers,” he said. “We expect both companies to take swift action in response to our urgent request like what they did in 2015.”

Test buys carried out by the EcoWaste Coalition last month found the banned Goree products being sold in Divisoria and Quiapo, Manila in blatant defiance of the FDA’s order “not to distribute the violative cosmetic products.”

Chemical screening conducted by the group using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device detected 25,300 ppm of mercury in Goree Beauty Cream and 21,800 ppm of mercury in the Goree Whitening Cream, way above the maximum allowable limit of 1 ppm.

According to the FDA advisory, “adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetics products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring. Chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections.”

“The transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life,” the FDA warned. NEIL A. ALCOBER


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