Politics

Green group seeks urgent action from PHL, Thai gov’ts to stop sales of unsafe cosmetics 

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ECOWASTE COALITION

ENVIRONMENTAL group EcoWaste Coalition called on the governments of Thailand and the Philippines to immediately halt the sales of Thai cosmetics with very high mercury content, which pose various health risks to consumers.  

The group, in a statement on Thursday, said it tracked unauthorized skincare cosmetics from Thailand that contain high concentrations of mercury of up to 44,540 parts per million (ppm), exceeding the legal limit of 1 ppm.    

“As member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and as parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury, we urge both the Philippines and Thailand to take urgent measures to stop the manufacture, import or export of cosmetics containing mercury,” EcoWaste Coalition National Coordination Aileen A. Lucero said.    

EcoWaste Coalition said that it detected mercury in specific components of eight Thai skincare sets sold by local online sellers.   

“Found contaminated with mercury through X-Ray Fluorescence screening were Lady Gold Seaweed Gluta/Super Gluta Brightening with 44,540 ppm (beige cream), five variants of Dr. Yanhee Facial Creams with 19,200 ppm (purple cream), 19,000 ppm (green cream), 11,830 ppm (pink cream), 9,460 ppm (purple cream) and 8,600 ppm (burnt orange cream); White Nano with 15,900 ppm (yellow cream), and Meyyong Seaweeds Super Whitening with 3,784 ppm (green cream),” the group said.    

Some of the health effects of inorganic mercury contained in skin lightening creams and soaps include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, anxiety, depression, psychosis and peripheral neuropathy, according to the World Health Organization.    

EcoWaste Coalition noted that member states of the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive (ACD) have agreed to ban mercury and its compounds as part of the composition of cosmetic products and placed a limit of 1 ppm for mercury as a heavy metal contaminant in cosmetics.  

“As both countries are obligated to comply with the requirements of the ACD and the Minamata Convention, we expect concerned health and customs authorities to ramp up actions that will protect human health and the ecosystems from mercury use in cosmetics,” Ms. Lucero said.    

The Minamata Convention on Mercury was ratified by the Philippines in 2020 while Thailand acceded to it in 2017. The convention provided that the manufacture, import, or export of cosmetics containing mercury content beyond 1 ppm would not be allowed by 2020. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave