Banned cosmetics in Sweden sold in Makati, Pasay: EcoWaste Coalition

A group tracking the illegal trade of mercury-added cosmetics has raised concern over the sale in Makati and Pasay Cities of a whitening product Sweden recently banned for containing high concentrations of mercury, a health-damaging chemical.

Citing information published last September 11 by the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Dangerous Non-Food Products, or RAPEX, the EcoWaste Coalition cautioned consumers against the purchase and use of Golden Pearl Beauty Cream, a skin lightening cosmetic made in Pakistan that Sweden banned and which is sold locally, particularly in Makati and Pasay Cities.

“This latest regulatory action against the marketing of Golden Pearl Beauty Cream should convince local users to stop spending for such a poison cosmetic that can pose serious health risks to users and to members of their households,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The use of mercury-laden skin lightening cosmetics by pregnant women, lactating mothers and nannies is of utmost concern as developing fetuses, babies and children are very sensitive to the toxic effects of mercury.  A pregnant woman, for instance, can pass the mercury to the fragile baby in her womb,” he added.

Sweden banned the marketing of Golden Pearl Beauty Cream after detecting mercury measured at 16.8 g/kg or 16,800 parts per million (ppm) emphasizing that “the product does not comply with the Cosmetic Products Regulation .” 

“Mercury accumulates in the body and can damage the kidneys, brain and nervous system.  Additionally, it may affect reproduction and the unborn child,” the Swedish notification warned. 

Golden Pearl Beauty Cream was among the seven mercury-laced skin lightening products screened for mercury by the EcoWaste Coalition in 2014 and subsequently submitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for confirmatory analyses, recalled Dizon.  

The FDA banned the seven products through Advisory No. 2013-053-A after confirmatory tests found them loaded with “violative levels of mercury.”

Despite being banned by the FDA, Golden Pearl Beauty Cream is still sold by beauty product retailers at the Guadalupe Shopping Center in Makati City and at the Baclaran Bagong Milenyo Plaza in Pasay City as if this product is registered and safe, Dizon said. 

The group had alerted Makati Mayor Abigail Binay and Pasay Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano about the sale of Golden Pearl Beauty Cream and other FDA-banned cosmetics through e-mails sent on September 7 and 9, respectively.

The Minamata Convention on Mercury sets a limit of 1 ppm for mercury in skin lightening products.  The treaty, which the Duterte government recently ratified, lists skin lightening products among the mercury-added products whose manufacture, import and export are to be phased out by 2020.

“As the 2020 global phase-out of mercury-added cosmetics is implemented, we urge our health, customs, police and local authorities to undertake concerted measures to put an end to the illegal trade of skin whitening products contaminated with mercury,” Dizon said.

“We specifically request our local authorities to pass ordinances banning and penalizing the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of mercury-added skin lightening products to ensure that none of these poison cosmetics are sold to their constituents,” he concluded.

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