THE toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition urged shopping malls in Manila to take immediate action to stop the sale of mercury-containing skin lightening products in their business premises.
In letters sent to the management of 168 Shopping Mall, Good Earth Plaza, Isetann Mall-Recto, QQ Mall and Tutuban Center, the group sought their help to ensure that cosmetics banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for containing mercury and/or for lacking market authorization are no longer offered for sale by their mall tenants.
“We hope concerned mall managers will heed our plea and take immediate action to make their thriving business safe from dangerous products such as cosmetics laden with mercury,” Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition said.
This came on the heels of the group’s latest market monitoring to check on business compliance to the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, which lists mercury and its compounds among the substances not permitted in cosmetic products, and the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which phased out in 2020 skin lightening products with mercury content above one part per million (ppm).
To their dismay, the group saw FDA-banned cosmetics openly displayed and sold with impunity in beauty product stores operating in malls that are popular for budget shopping.
According to EcoWaste, among the FDA-banned products found in store shelves were 88 Total White Underarm Cream from Thailand, Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream from Pakistan, Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream from Indonesia, and Feique Herbal Extract Whitening Anti-Freckle Set and S’Zitang from China.
These products target women who are enticed to apply these creams with undisclosed mercury content to lighten the skin tone, treat acne, and remove age spots, blackheads, blemishes, freckles, and wrinkles.
In the interest of protecting consumer health from the harmful effects of mercury exposure, the group requested the shopping malls to: Support and assist the FDA in enforcing the ban on mercury-containing and unnotified cosmetics; Print and distribute copies of relevant FDA Advisories to cosmetic dealers operating at their facilities; Instruct cosmetic stalls to abide by the FDA regulations and discontinue the sale of dangerous cosmetics containing mercury, as well as other cosmetic and health products not notified or registered with the FDA; and to ask dealers to remove remaining stocks of banned skin whitening cosmetics out of mall premises and to return them to their sources for safe disposal.
The group will write next to the management of 999 Shopping Mall, Dragon 8 Mall, Manila City Plaza and Victory Lacson Underpass to encourage them to go mercury-free as well.
Catherine R. Cueto