Toxic metals such as lead and mercury have been reportedly found in some cosmetic products sold in the city.
Toxic watchdog and environmental group EcoWaste Coalition, in a press statement, said they were able to “procure dozens of skin whitening creams and lipsticks containing mercury and lead above the regulatory limits of 1 and 20 parts per million (ppm), respectively.”
Accordingly, the cosmetics that were examined were only brought for very low prices ranging from P20 to P120.
Through a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analytical device, it was found out that out of 20 skin whitening products, 13 were found to contain mercury in excess of the 1 ppm limit.
“Mercury amounting to 1,187 to 2,330 ppm was detected in Erna, Jiaoli and S’Zitang creams, which have long been banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to their high mercury content,” according to the press statement.
Also, out of 100 lipstick products, 24 had lead levels ranging from 118 to 30,500 ppm.
“Counterfeit lipsticks bearing the names MAC Vivaglam, Dermacol and April Skin were found to be laced with lead way above the 20 ppm limit,” it said.
The group said the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed lead and mercury among the “10 chemicals of major public health concern.
“Exposure to mercury and lead of developing fetuses in pregnant women, babies and young children can cause developmental delays, learning difficulties, reduced attention span, language skills and verbal memory, and reproductive disorders,” the group said.
Also, “adult exposure to mercury can cause physical tremors, vision abnormality, irritability and memory problems, while adult exposure to lead can cause joint and muscle paint, high blood pressure, difficulties with concentration or memory, mood disorders, and miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth in pregnant women.”
A local environment group called the local government to act on the matter through regular monitoring of business compliance to product safety regulations.
“As this appalling trade in toxic cosmetics has been going on for years, we urge the City Council to consider enacting an ordinance as a deterrent to such an unlawful act,” said Chinkie Peliño-Golle, executive director of the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS).
Both groups also urged the city authorities to “impose tougher sanctions, including hefty fines, jail time and business permit cancellation, against erring establishments and individuals, especially those who repeatedly engage in the unlawful manufacture, importation, distribution or sale of unsafe goods that can harm human health and the ecosystems.”
Aside from health concerns, the group also pointed out that such metals harm the environment.
“Halting the sale of poison cosmetics will prevent the leakage of lead and mercury into the environment, particularly when these chemicals are discharged into the wastewater and into water bodies,” the groups pointed out.