July 13, 2024

Environmental watchdog group BAN Toxics is calling for stricter monitoring and regulation of skin-lightening products in light of the Philippines’ recent ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury and its participation at the recently-concluded Conference of Parties held last month.
The international treaty, which the country ratified in 2020, calls for the banning of skin lightening products with mercury contents above 1 part per million (ppm).
Despite government bans, skin lightening products containing mercury – a heavy metal and dangerous neurotoxin – were still being sold in stores in Baclaran terminal plaza.
A test buy operation conducted by BAN Toxics last April 3 revealed the proliferation of the illegal skin products in the area.
The Food and Drug Administration already issued advisories banning the sale of the following mercury-added products found during the test buy operation: Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, Goree Beauty Cream and Goree Day and Night Cream, C Collagen Plus Vit E Day and Night Cream, and Golden Pearl Beauty Cream.
“We call on the FDA and the national and local governments to implement stricter measures to curb the sale of these dangerous products. We must protect Filipinos from the serious health risks from mercury exposure,” said Reynaldo San Juan, executive director of BAN Toxics.
Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that has been designated as one of the World Health Organization’s top chemicals of major public health concern. Regular use of mercury-laced skin products can cause damage to the skin, while long-term exposure to high levels of mercury can harm the nervous, digestive, and immune systems, leading to death in some cases.
Dental amalgams, mercury-containing medical measuring devices, and artisanal and small-scale gold mining activities are the main causes of human exposure to mercury.
The Philippines ratified the Minamata Convention on mercury on July 8, 2020, and attended the Conference of Parties as a party to the convention last March 21 to 25 in Bali, Indonesia. Sale of products with mercury content is illegal and punishable by law according to the Chemical Control Order for Mercury and Mercury Compounds-Department of Environment naf Natural Resources Administrative Order 2019-20.
Between 2017 and 2022, Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG), an international coalition of public interest environmental and health non-governmental organizations, of which BAN Toxics is a part, tested 271 skin lightening products from 17 sampling countries. Of the 271 products tested, 129 exceeded the maximum allowable limit for mercury of 1 ppm.
BAN Toxics has pushed the Philippine government to take action to curb mercury use in the country since 2007. The organization contributed to ZMWG’s research and monitoring on the illegal sale of mercury-added skin lightening products in Philippine online marketplaces. – Press release