July 3, 2022, Quezon City. In an effort to protect their constituents from health-damaging mercury exposures, the EcoWaste Coalition reached out to newly installed local chief executives in 19 cities in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and the National Capital Region.
In emails sent last Friday, the toxic substances watchdog group informed mayors of the illegal sale in their towns of contraband cosmetics loaded with mercury, a dangerous chemical included in the “list of substances which must not be part of the composition” of the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive. of cosmetic products.
The group emailed their letters to the mayors of the cities of Angeles, Antipolo, Bacolod, Baguio, Biñan, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Iligan, Iloilo, Mabalacat, Manila, Pasay, Pasig, Roxas, San Carlos ( Negros Occidental), San Pablo, San Pedro and Tarlac.
“We reached out to our mayors shortly after their installation to alert them to this recurring public health and safety issue that demands their attention,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. “As chief executives of their respective cities, we urge them to take active steps to prevent the exposure of their constituents, especially women of childbearing age, to mercury in cosmetics.”
Test buying operations conducted by the group in more than 25 local government units (LGUs) from March to June 2022 indicate the availability of mercury-containing skin-whitening cosmetics in retail stores despite laws prohibiting their production and sale. marketing.
“Although we found fewer brands of face creams containing mercury compared to our 2015 study of 50 cities, the results of our latest market survey indicate that the smuggling of these products forbidden has not ceased; hence the need for strong customs controls and local government interventions,” Lucero said.
Among the banned cosmetics sold in beauty stores, as well as online shopping platforms, are Goree Beauty Cream with lycopene and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned in 2017, the group said.
As part of the pursuit of general welfare provisions under the Local Government Code, the EcoWaste Coalition has asked the various city authorities to:
— set up a team to study the report of the EcoWaste Coalition;
— conducting law enforcement activities, including random inspection of stores and confiscation of prohibited products and their safe disposal;
— adopt an ordinance prohibiting and penalizing the manufacture, import, distribution and sale of cosmetics containing mercury; and to
— promote the “Brown Is Beautiful” campaign to instill appreciation and acceptance of one’s natural skin color.
In their letters to mayors, the EcoWaste Coalition pointed out that the relentless sale of mercury-containing cosmetics defeats the purpose of the Minamata Convention, a legally binding treaty that aims to “protect human health and environment of anthropogenic emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds. This treaty, among other provisions, stipulates the phasing out in 2020 of the manufacture, import or export of cosmetic products such as skin lightening creams and soaps with mercury content greater than 1 ppm.
The group also said the sale of these products violates the Philippines Consumer Law (RA 7394 prohibits adulterated cosmetics or those containing toxic or harmful substances) and the Food and Drug Administration Act (RA 9711 prohibits health products , including cosmetics, which are adulterated, unregistered or mislabeled).
Mercury in skin-lightening cosmetics is released through routine use of the products, with skin absorption and inhalation being common routes of exposure. It can cause skin discoloration, rashes and scarring, and reduce the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. Repeated applications may damage the kidneys, brain and central nervous system.
The use of mercury-containing skin lightening products by pregnant women is of great concern because mercury is known to cross the placenta during pregnancy and accumulate in fetal tissues, affecting the developing brain and nervous system of the baby in the womb and causing neurodevelopmental disorders.
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