A study expose unbelievable results about skin creams

EcoWaste Coalition asked the Pakistani government to assist in resolving a public health issue involving the illegal export to the Philippines of 17 “made in Pakistan” beauty creams.

A study expose unbelievable results about skin creams

The toxics watchdog organisation EcoWaste Coalition has enlisted the assistance of the government of Pakistan in its most recent attempt to curtail the sale of cosmetics with banned mercury additives in the local market, including on online shopping portals.

The group asked the Pakistani government to assist in resolving a public health issue involving the illegal export to the Philippines of 17 “made in Pakistan” beauty creams that violated the Minamata Convention on Mercury by containing high levels of mercury.

The Federal Minister of the Ministry of Climate Change (MOCC) and Mr. Syed Mujtaba Hussain, the nation’s National Focal Point for the Minamata Convention on Mercury, respectively, were the recipients of the letter.

The mercury treaty, which includes Pakistan and the Philippines among the state parties, has set a phase-out date for cosmetics such as skin lightening products with mercury content above 1 ppm. The treaty established 2020 as the cutoff date for the production, import, and export of these cosmetics containing mercury.

As stated by Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition, “While we appreciate the efforts of the MOCC and the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), it is evident that much needs to be done to enforce the phase-out of cosmetics containing mercury and protect consumers from the harmful health effects of chemical whiteners, which promote unnatural changes to darker skin tones and falsely equate beauty with whiteness.”

The Government of Pakistan should intensify efforts to stop mercury use in cosmetics, strengthen compliance monitoring, correct the misuse of the “Pakistan Standards” certification logo, and tighten customs checks to stop the export of mercury adulterated cosmetics to the Philippines and elsewhere.

The EcoWaste Coalition conducted chemical screening of 17 beauty creams to determine their mercury content, which ranged from 766 to 58,400 parts per million (ppm). Twelve of these products had over 10,000 ppm of mercury, and five even carried the “Pakistan Standards” certification logo.

Despite the 2020 phase-out date, non-compliant cosmetic manufacturers in some countries continue to produce and export fairness or whitening creams with high levels of mercury that exceed hazardous waste specifications.

Of the 17 beauty creams with mercury added in question, five were manufactured in 2022, two in 2021, five in 2020, four in 2019, and one in 2018. These products find their way to other countries through illegal importation by unscrupulous dealers and unsuspecting consumers.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines tested Goree Beauty Cream with Lycopene and Goree Day & Night Beauty Cream in 2017 and found them to contain mercury above the one ppm limit. Regulatory agencies in Bangladesh, Brunei, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the USA (California and New York) had also taken action against their importation and sale.

The FDA Philippines had also issued public health warnings against the purchase and use of other Goree cosmetics due to their mercury content or for being sold without market authorization.

Pakistan’s immediate and decisive action will prevent and reduce consumer and occupational mercury exposures, as well as protect households, especially women of childbearing age and children, from being contaminated with mercury.

Five of the 17 analysed cosmetics failed laboratory tests, and five of them were found to exceed the one ppm limit for mercury in cosmetics.

The EcoWaste Coalition, together with its Thai and regional NGO partners, delivered a letter to the FDA Thailand urging it to take action against mercury-added cosmetics being exported and sold to Filipino consumers. FDA Thailand quickly launched an investigation, which confirmed that 13 of the 14 products adulterated with mercury are illegal cosmetics. The investigation is still ongoing.