The EcoWaste Coalition and Idis reportedly purchased the skin-whitening cosmetics from a number of shops located in Chinatown and other areas of Davao City.
Some of the products reportedly contained a mercury percentage of up to 6,633 parts per million- more than 6,000 times the FDA limit.
The discovery of banned chemicals was the second that the group has made in the Philippines this month, and the x this year.
Ann Fuertes, the executive director of Idis, called the sale of mercury-containing cosmetics:“a direct affront to the right of consumers to non-hazardous products.”
The search for contaminated products
The groups were able to detect the poisonous chemical in the products using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer, a handheld device which is commonly used to analyze lab samples.
A number of other cheap cosmetics purchased in the area were also found to be being sold without Philippines Food and Drug Association (FDA) authorization.
Fuertes said:“Stopping such illegal trade will help in reducing the amount of mercury that gets into our bodies and the environment.
“We therefore urge the local government and police authorities to get to the bottom of this wicked trade of poison cosmetics in the city and bring violators to justice.”
The FDA warns that there have been cases of negative health effects brought on by exposure to mercury-laced products, including kidney damage, skin rashes, discoloration and scarring.
EU watchdog the World Health Organization has stated that exposure to mercury may lead to kidney, immune and nervous system problems, as well as developmental problems in children, and that “use of mercury-containing beauty creams, hair treatment and other cosmetic products may cause significant exposure.”
Cosmetics control in the Philippines
Rhoda Laine D. Manaloto, a spokesperson for the FDA, said that in order to manufacture or import cosmetics in the Philippines, establishments must first secure a license to operate, as well as ensuring that they comply with the ASEAN Cosmetics Directive.
She stated:“The company responsible for placing the product in the market or whoever owns the product formulation shall for control purposes keep the product's technical and safety information readily accessible to the regulatory authority,”and that there are routine audits and inspections.
The FDA has currently banned a total of 93 cosmetic skin whiteners found to contain mercury or dangerous chemicals. Two of the skin whitening products detected in Davao City were included in the ban.