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A Toxics-Free Future


Toxic Expose: Online Trade of Mercury-Containing Skin Whitening Cosmetics in the Philippines

From the Executive Summary:

This investigation on the sale of mercury-containing skin bleaching, lightening or whitening cosmetics in online shopping platforms and social media sites was conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition to support the implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury that the government of the Philippines ratified on June 2, 2020. The treaty, named after the Japanese city of Minamata that suffered decades-long mercury poisoning, seeks to protect human health and the environment from mercury emissions and releases. The convention, among other provisions, sets a global phase-out target by 2020 of certain mercury-added products such as cosmetics, including skin lightening creams and soaps, with mercury content above 1 part per million (ppm).

The study brought to light the unethical and unlawful use of online shopping and social media sites to promote and sell skin whitening cosmetics with undisclosed mercury content. Of the 65 samples procured in this study and subsequently screened for mercury, a highly toxic chemical not allowed in cosmetic product formulations, 40 were found to contain mercury above the trace amount limit of 1 ppm; of which 38 had mercury above 1,000 ppm; 25 contained mercury above 5,000 ppm; 19 were laden with mercury above 15,000 ppm; and 5 were loaded with mercury above 25,000 ppm. None of these samples are duly notified or registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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