The ecological group found 15 skin whitening products from Taiwan, Hong Kong and China being sold in various stores in the city, all containing the toxic substance.
It comes just months after the same organization revealed similar test results from a study conducted in Quezon City, Philippines.
This time around the Coalition’s monitoring group 'AlerToxic Patrol' took vendors to task in Binondo, Divisoria, Quiapo and Santa Cruz for ignoring the government’s directive banning cosmetics with mercury above the one part per million (ppm) 'allowable limit.'
Amongst the toxic products found on store shelves was 'Yudantang Ginseng and Green Cucumber 10 Days Whitening Speckles Removed Essence', which the monitoring team found to contain a staggering 59,000 parts of the substance per million.
While in Binondo and Sta. Cruz, a ‘Special Cream' labeled in Chinese characters was uncovered alongwith 'Beauty Girl Egg White and Tomato Specific Eliminating Freckle Whitening Cream' containing 39,400 ppm and 'S’Zitang 10 Days Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set' with 6,499 ppm.
Calling on authorities to intensify post-market surveillance
On the news that the area is still flogging these types of products to consumers, group coordinator Aileen Lucero advised that they be wary of skin lightening products, especially those not properly labeled and registered.
"Be inquisitive when you shop as what you don’t know can harm you,” she said whilst also calling on the FDA to intensify post-market surveillance and sue violators, and update the list of banned mercury-containing cosmetics.
The Coalition also urged the Department of Interior and Local Government to mobilize local government units to fight the illegal trade and the Bureau of Customs to stop the smuggling of contraband cosmetics.
According to the FDA's health advisory, the chronic use of mercury-laced cosmetics “reduces skin’s normal resistance against bacterial and fungal infections.”
Other reactions include anything from skin burns, rashes, or discoloration and scarring, whilst the absorption of high levels in a short period of time may even lead to severe gastroenteritis, burning mouth pain, abdominal pain, or vomiting.