15 February 2018

Toxics Watch Group Lauds Lazada and OLX for Delisting Online Ads for Mercury-Tainted Skin Whitening Cosmetics

The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit environmental and health group, gave online shopping sites Lazada and OLX two thumbs up for quickly removing third-party advertisements for banned cosmetics laced with mercury, a potent neurotoxin.

The group had earlier alerted the two e-shopping platforms about the alarming proliferation of unlawful ads for “Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera” and “Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream” that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had banned due to their mercury content.

The FDA in October last year issued Advisory No. 2017-289 warning the public against the purchase and use of the said Goree cosmetics after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of mercury above the maximum allowable limit of one part per million (ppm) as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

Imported from Pakistan, the banned Goree skin lightening cosmetics “have not gone through the verification process of the agency and have not been issued the proper authorization in the form of acknowledged cosmetic notifications.”

“Our group lauds both Lazada and OLX for duly responding to our notification regarding the inappropriate use of their sites by third-party merchants to sell mercury-laden skin whitening products banned by the FDA,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The removal of the deceptive ads will protect online shoppers from being duped into buying and using dangerous skin care products that promise to whiten the color of the skin,” he said.

“Their action is in step with the implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury, which, among other provisions, seeks to phase out mercury use in products such as skin lightening cosmetics with mercury above 1 ppm,” he added.

Based on the screening conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, Goree Beauty Cream had 25,300 ppm of mercury, while Goree Whitening Cream had 21,800 ppm, way above the trace amount limit of 1 ppm.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “the main adverse effect of the inorganic mercury in skin lightening soaps and creams is kidney damage.”


“Mercury in skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, as well as a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections,” the WHO warned.

“Other effects include anxiety, depression or psychosis and peripheral neuropathy,” it further said.

-end-

Reference:
http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisori es-2/cosmetic-2/472052-fda-adv isory-no-2017-289
http://www.who.int/ipcs/assess ment/public_health/mercury_fly er.pdf

14 February 2018

Lead-Free Lucky Dog Figurines Get the Thumbs Up from Toxics Watch Group

 With no detectable lead content.
With lead content exceeding the regulatory limit.


The EcoWaste Coalition, a non-profit watch group on toxic chemicals, lauded local craft makers for the apparent shift to lead-free paints for decorating dog-inspired figurines in celebration of the Chinese New Year of the Earth Dog.

According to the group’s  latest screening of painted lucky dog figurines using a handheld  X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, eight of the 12  samples bought from street vendors in Quiapo, Manila for P25 to P250 each were found to contain no detectable lead.  

The other four samples had lead levels ranging from 205, 395, 795 and 6,578 parts per million (ppm) exceeding the regulatory limit of 90 ppm for lead in paint.  

“While not all samples were negative for lead, we recognize the obvious switch to lead-free decorative paints by local craft makers, many of which are small-sized enterprises.  This is a good indicator of the efforts by commercial paint consumers to fit with the nation’s progressive shift to paints without added lead,” said Thony Dizon,  Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“We hope that by 2019, the year of the Earth Pig, all lucky pig figurines on sale will be solely decorated with lead-free paints,” he added.

In 2016, the year of the Fire Monkey, lead content up to 7,800 ppm was detected in brightly colored  lucky monkey figurines, while in 2017, the year of the Fire Rooster, lead up to 5,032 ppm was detected in lucky rooster figurines.

Lead, a chemical that is harmful to human health, especially to the brain and the central nervous system, is considered one of the “ten chemicals of major public health concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Studies have shown that lead exposure at an early age can result to reduced intelligence, speech and language difficulties, hearing loss, decreased bone and muscle growth, increased blood pressure, kidney damage and behavioral problems, including aggression and violence.

Lead exposure among adults can bring about miscarriage in women, reduced sperm count in men, hypertension and other health problems.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, directed the phase out of lead-containing architectural, household and decorative paints effective December 31, 2016 after a three-year phase-out period.

“To facilitate informed consumer choice, we suggest that craft makers duly label their products,” Dizon suggested.

-end-

Reference:

13 February 2018

Pre-Valentine “Miss Toxic Pretty”Advocacy Pageant Makes a Pitch for Safe Cosmetics (Watch Group Raises Red Flags over Hazardous Cosmetics)

Safe cosmetics must cause no harm to health nor poison the planet.

The non-profit EcoWaste Coalition today made a pitch for safe cosmetics that pose no threats to human health and the environment on the eve of Valentine’s Day, a well-liked time for giving romantic beauty gifts.

Through an event dubbed as Miss Toxic Pretty 2018, the EcoWaste Coalition, in collaboration with the Manila Science High School (MSHS), staged an advocacy pageant attended by close to 300 Grade 9 consumer chemistry students to promote critical reflection and thinking about the purchase and use of personal care and cosmetic products.

The event came on the heels of a recent investigation by the group indicating the unabated sale of banned imported mercury-tainted skin whitening cosmetics in the local market and in online shopping sites.

“We have mounted this pageant to draw attention to cosmetic product ingredients that may cause serious health problems to consumers and the ecosystems and thus should be totally avoided,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Chemicals associated with mental retardation, neurological and behavioral disorders, endocrine disruption, reproductive harm and cancer, as well as those that pollute the oceans and poison aquatic life, have no place in one’s beauty and hygiene routine,” he pointed out.

“Given the continued trade in counterfeit and hazardous cosmetics, we ask consumers to press for full information on chemicals in cosmetic products, including their health and environmental effects,” he added.

The pageant, which opened with the song “Toxic” by Britney Spears, drew youthful candidates representing cosmetic ingredients of concern, namely, Miss Lead, Miss Mercury, Miss Triclosan, Miss Isobutyl Paraben, Miss Dibutyl Phthalate,and Miss Plastic Microbeads.
These cosmetic ingredients are either banned or restricted under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ASEAN, European Union and/or US regulations.

Mr. Emil Virtudes, President and Chairman of the Board of the Chamber of Cosmetics Industry of the Philippines, and Ms. Maria Eva Nacion, Principal of MSHS, graced the fun but educational Miss Toxic Pretty pageant.

During the pageant proper, the audience also had the opportunity to watch the seven-minute film “The Story of Cosmetics,” which examines the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in personal care products, and the two-minute film “The Story of Microbeads,” which discusses how plastic particles in cosmetics are dirtying the oceans.

The Miss Toxic Pretty pageant concluded with the candidates eagerly responding to the questions that delved on a range of issues, including the consumer right to product information, consumer access to non-hazardous products to teenage views on “kutis-artistahin” and “brown is beautiful.”
To reduce toxic exposures, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to carefully read product labeling information, shun products with incomplete facts and misleading claims, select those with simpler and fewer synthetic compounds, and buy notified products that have passed the FDA’s quality and safety verification procedures. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Lead is a harmful ingredient in some lipsticks that is particularly toxic to the brain and the central nervous system.  While the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD) limit for lead in cosmetics is 20 parts per million (ppm) maximum, the EcoWaste Coalition has found unregistered lipsticks with lead content as high as 18,500 ppm.

Exposure to mercury in some skin whitening products may result to skin rashes, discoloration and scarring, decreased dermal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections, and kidney damage.  Even though the ACD limits mercury in trace amount of one ppm, the EcoWaste Coalition has detected outrageous concentrations of mercury in dozens of contraband skin whitening cosmetics, including one with 96,100 ppm of mercury.

While still permitted as an anti-bacterial agent in the Philippines, the US FDA has banned triclosan, its chemical cousin triclocarban and 17 other chemical ingredients in hand and body washes starting September 2017.

The Philippine FDA, following the 2014 decision by the ASEAN Cosmetic Committee, banned isobutyl paraben and four other related preservatives, namely benzyl, isopropyl, phenyl and pentyl parabens, effective January 2016.

Also, the Philippine FDA in 2015 banned an artificial nail adhesive containing dibutyl phthalate, which is listed among the substances that “must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products” under the ACD.

While still allowed in the Philippines, the US federal law Microbead-Free Waters Act banned plastic microbeads, which refer to any solid plastic particle less than 5 mm in size, in personal care and cosmetic products from July 2017.

-end-

Reference to cited cosmetics regulations:

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/472052-fda-advisory-no-2017-289

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories/cosmetic/103530-fda-advisory

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/328036-fda-advisory-no-2016-032

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/226625-fda-advisory-no-2015-7

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/09/02/492394717/fda-bans-19-chemicals-used-in-antibacterial-soaps

https://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/GuidanceRegulation/LawsRegulations/ucm531849.htm

07 February 2018

Group Urges Online Shopping Sites to Remove Ads for Mercury-Tainted Skin Whitening Cosmetics from Pakistan Banned by the FDA

 Screenshot from Lazada.ph
 Screenshot from OLX.ph
 Banned Goree cosmetics on sale in Divisoria.

Banned Feique and Goree cosmetics on sale in Quiapo.

A non-profit group promoting public health and safety  appealed to e-shopping websites to delete posts by third party sellers advertising banned skin lightening products from Pakistan that are laden with toxic mercury.

Through a press statement, the EcoWaste Coalition urged Lazada and OLX to immediately delist the numerous advertisements for “Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera” and “Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream” for the protection of their valued customers.


Last October 30, 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued Advisory No. 2017-289 warning the public against the purchase and use of the above Goree cosmetics after finding mercury, a harmful chemical that is not allowed in cosmetic product formulations, above the maximum trace amount of one part per million (ppm).

“(These) products have not gone through the verification process of the agency and have not been issued the proper authorization in the form of acknowledged cosmetic notifications,” the advisory said. 


“We request the management of Lazada, OLX and other online shopping platforms not to allow their sites to be used for the unlawful sale of consumer products such as cosmetics that have not passed the quality and safety verification by the authorities,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“The ban on the sale of products containing health and environmentally-damaging chemicals such as mercury also applies to the online marketplace and should be strictly followed,” he pointed out.

Test buys carried out by the EcoWaste Coalition last month found the banned Goree products  being sold by retailers of cosmetics and Chinese drugs in Divisoria and Quiapo, Manila in blatant defiance of the FDA’s order “not to distribute the violative cosmetic products 

Chemical screening conducted by the group using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device detected 25,300 ppm of mercury in Goree Beauty Cream and 21,800 ppm of mercury in the Goree Whitening Cream, way above the maximum allowable limit of 1 ppm. 

According to the FDA advisory, “adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetics products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring. Chronic use reduces the skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections.”

“The transfer of mercury to fetuses of pregnant women may manifest as neurodevelopment deficits later in life,” the FDA warned.

“We expect both Lazada and OLX to take swift action in response to our urgent request like what they did in 2015,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition recalled Lazada and OLX in 2015, upon the request of the group, speedily removed ads of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics, as well as fat-burning slimming products with sibutramine and other restricted ingredients.

-end-

Links to Lazada and OLX ads selling the banned Goree products:




Link to FDA Advisory No. 2017-289:





05 February 2018

Toxics Watch Group Continues to Bring Mercury-Tainted Skin Whitening Products Out of the Dark (FDA-Banned Skin Whitening Product with High Mercury Content Claims “No Side-Effects”)

10 skin whitening cosmetics containing high levels of toxic mercury above the trace amount limit of 1 ppm.
A store attendant prepares the receipt for purchased skin whitening products with high mercury content.

A non-profit watch group on toxic chemicals and wastes today revealed that retailers of contraband mercury-laden skin whitening products in Manila are selling flagrantly, in broad daylight, despite being warned by health authorities not to sell them.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the exposé following its latest market investigation to check on the trade of mercury-containing skin lightening cosmetics, which the group has been doing since 2011 to alert and protect consumers, especially women and girls, against mercury exposure.  

The test buys conducted last week netted 10 brands of imported skin whitening products without the required cosmetic product notifications from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  These products are included in the list of over 135 skin whitening cosmetics banned by FDA for containing mercury above the maximum allowable limit of  one part per million (ppm).

The products, costing P60 to P250 each, were obtained from stores selling beauty products and Chinese medicines located at or near well-known bargain shopping malls in Divisoria and Quiapo.

Mercury in the range of 517 to 25,300 ppm, way above the trace amount limit of 1 ppm, were detected on the samples as per chemical screening using a handheld X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device.

“We urge consumers not to fall victim to the deceptive promises of these illegal cosmetic imports such as fairer skin complexion, treatment of acne, and the removal of aging spots, freckles and other skin woes,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

Dizon cited, as an example, Goree Beauty Cream utterly false claim of “no side-effects” as indicated on the label although its mercury content was 25,300 times the permissible limit.  On the contrary, using this product may cause serious side-effects, Dizon emphasized.  The FDA last October 2017 banned two variants of Goree skin creams from Pakistan due to their mercury content.

Goree, as written on the label, “not only whitens the skin, it gives a glossy and pinkish teenage look.”  Mercury was not on the ingredients’ list, and no precautionary warning was provided about the health effects of mercury exposure.  

According to the World Health Organization, users of mercury-containing skin whitening cosmetics may experience skin discoloration, rashes and scarring and reduced skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, while repeated applications can cause damage to the brain, the nervous system and the kidneys.

Symptoms of mercury poisoning may include change in the ability to taste, difficulty to concentrate, excessive shyness, weakened hearing and vision, insomnia, irritability, memory problems, numbness and tingling in hands, feet or around mouth, and tremors.

To avoid mercury exposure in cosmetics, the EcoWaste Coalition encouraged Filipinos to take pride in our natural skin complexion.  “There is beauty and dignity in our ‘kayumangging kaligatan,’” the group pointed out.

If a fairer skin tone is really desired, the group advised consumers to seek medical advice from a licensed dermatologist, and to desist from using skin whitening cosmetics that have not gone through FDA’s quality and safety evaluation and are not guaranteed free of mercury and other health-damaging substances.

Here is the list of the 10 skin whitening cosmetics and their mercury content as per XRF screening:

1. Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado & Aloe Vera, 25,300 ppm
2. Goree Day & Night Whitening Cream Oil Free, 21,800 ppm 
3. Feique Herbal Extract Chinese Formula Whitening Anti-Freckle Set, 6,825 ppm 
4. Erna Whitening Cream,, 6,626 ppm
5. S’Zitang Yangbaisu, 2,613 ppm
6. Jiachuntang Ban Gan Jing Qu Ban Shuang, 2,363 ppm
7. Women of Flower Whitening and Speckle-Removing A and B Series, 2,262 ppm 
8. Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, 2,227 ppm
9. Jiaoli 7-Day Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, 2,132 ppm
10. Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream, 517 ppm

-end-

Reference:

http://www.fda.gov.ph/advisories-2/cosmetic-2/472052-fda-advisory-no-2017-289