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Ecowaste Coalition chemical safety officer Thony Dizon shows to reporters the various skin-whitening products that the group said are laden with mercury and are being openly sold in Cagayan de Oro during a press conference last week. (photo by Jigger J. Jerusalem)

City hall set to inspect stores that sell dangerous skin creams

By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
Correspondent .

THE city government is set to inspect stores selling beauty products alleged to have high contents of toxic chemical, a local legislator said Thursday.

Councilor George Goking said he has already coordinated with the City Price Coordinating Council (CPCC) to conduct an inspection on skin-whitening creams being sold in Cogon and Carmen public markets.

According to the health and environmental group Ecowaste Coalition, these imported skin-whitening products contain a high level of mercury, a toxic element that is hazardous to humans.

Using a portable device, the group was able to determine that the products in questions contain mercury levels beyond the one part per million (1 ppm) limit.

It was found out that the skin whiteners have a range of 125 to 22,700 ppm, way above the maximum allowable limit of 1ppm.

Ecowaste Coalition identified those brands Goree, Collagen Plus Vit. E., JJJ, Jiaoli, S’Zitang, and Xinjiaoli.

Dizon said the products were bought recently at the Angel Chavez complex, and Cogon and Carmen markets.

Goking said he would ask the City Legal Office to move against establishments carrying the products once they have established that these stores are selling these skin whiteners.

“If there is a need to craft an ordinance, then I will file it,” he said.

Earlier, lawyer Jose Edgardo Uy, head of the joint inspection team and chair of the CPCC, said he would look into the report made by Ecowaste Coalition.

Uy said his group would also conduct an inspection and take concrete measures to stop the proliferation of fake and highly toxic products in the local market.

Uy said city hall has yet to receive complaints from consumers but “we will not wait for complaints.”

He added: “If the report says these products have adverse effects, we have to act.”

Thony Dizon, Ecowaste Coalition chemical safety campaigner, said the group has reached out to city hall and asked it to act on the problem.

“To protect the public against mercury exposure and to prevent mercury contamination of the environment, we request the city government to stop the sale of these poison cosmetics,” Dizon said.

“We also request the [city council] to adopt an ordinance that will ban and penalize the manufacture, importation, distribution and sale of mercurty-containing skin whitening cosmetics like what the Quezon city council did last year,” he added.

The Food and Drugs Administration has also released a warning about skin-whitening creams being sold in the market.

The FDA listed the following: Renow-D New Facial Cream Formula-One, Goree Day and Night Whitening Cream Oil Free, and Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene with SPF 30 Avocado and Aloevera.

Goree is among the products that Ecowaste Coalition tested for high levels of mercury mercury.

“To our disbelief and dismay, FDA-banned skin whitening cosmetics are sold over the counter in [Cagayan de Oro] as if these products are legal and safe to use. Health experts have repeatedly warned that mercury-containing skin whiteners are hazardous to health,” Dizon said.

Dizon sid they are alarmed that Goree is still being sold in the city, when the FDA has already banned it in 2017.

“After the side effects of using this smuggled cosmetic from Pakistan became highly publicized last year, we notice a drop in the open sale of Goree in Divisoria, Manila. However, it appears that [Cagayan de Oro] is flood with this dangerous skin whitener,” he said.

Ecowaste Coalition said mercury is not allowed as ingredient in cosmetic products under the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Cosmetic Directive.

Also, the global phase-out of skin whitening products with mercury above 1 ppm is targeted by 2020 under the Minimata Convention on Mercury.

According to both the FDA and the World Health Organization, the adverse health effects brought about by highly toxic mercury in cosmetic products include kidney damage, skin rashes, skin discoloration, and scarring.

Symptoms of mercury exposure include depression, drowsiness, exhaustion, hair loss, inflamed gums, irritability, memory loss, nervousness, rash, sleeplessness, tingling of the extremities, tremors, and weakness.

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