An independent environmental watch group on Sunday issued a stern warning to beauty-conscious Filipinos to stop buying Pakistan-made beauty products because they contain extremely hazardous chemicals. In a statement, EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator Aileen Lucero said the latest toxic contaminated eyeliners and skin lightening creams are being sold in Baclaran in Paranaque City (Metro Manila). The EcoWaste was not sure if the Paranaque City Hall officials conduct regular rounds to find out if there are businessmen selling dangerous products in the city. Lucero said EcoWaste found the products as “alarming [due to]high concentrations of mercury, lead and cadmium.” She added that the EcoWaste test showed that Parley Beauty Cream that can be bought for P250 and Golden Pearl Beauty Cream that costs also P250 were found to contain 19,900 and 11,600 parts per million (ppm) of mercury, while a Hashmi Surma Special (P150) eyeliner was found to contain over 100,000 ppm of lead, exceeding the allowable limits of 1 ppm for mercury and 20 ppm for lead under the Asean Cosmetic Directive (ACD). Hashmi was further found to contain 5,861 ppm of cadmium, way above the ACD limit of 5 ppm. According to Lucero, “These products, which are being sold without proper market authorization, pose serious chemical and health risks because of their excessive mercury, lead and cadmium content, which are nowhere to be found on their lists of ingredients.” She said the cosmetics containing toxic metals can damage one’s health. “In fact, Golden Pearl Beauty Cream was among the seven skin whitening products banned by the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] in September 2014 after confirmatory laboratory analysis revealed ‘violative levels of mercury in the samples provided by EcoWaste,” Lucero pointed out. To prove EcoWaste’s point, she also explained that “[h]ealth authorities in the US, Canada and France have also banned Hashmi and other lead-containing eye cosmetics as a preventive measure against lead exposure.” Truth of the matter, according to Lucero, is that beauty products with hazardous chemicals are also offered even to the highly developed countries, citing the United Kingdom wherein the London Trading Standards announced on January 12 that it has fined 15 cosmetic shops in 2016 for £168,579 (P10,541,526) for selling unsafe merchandise, including “Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, “containing dangerous and prohibited levels of hydroquinone, mercury or corticosteroids.” The safest way for consumers to protect themselves against exposure to toxic metals and other harmful substances in cosmetics is to avoid the use of adulterated, imitation and unauthorized beauty products that have not undergone safety evaluation, she said. Lucero noted that mercury, lead and cadmium are considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as among the “ten chemicals of major public health concern.” The WHO has repeatedly said mercury poses a particular threat to the development of the child in utero and early in life and, depending on its form, will have different toxic effects, including on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes. Lead, on the other hand, is a cumulative toxicant affecting multiple body systems, including the neurologic, hematologic, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular and renal systems, the WHO said. Cadmium has toxic effects on the kidney, the skeletal and the respiratory systems, and is classified as a human carcinogen, according to the international health organization. Lucero said the EcoWaste Coalition will continue to warn the public from buying low-standard and unsafe beauty products.
NELSON S. BADILLA