EcoWaste Coalition Lauds ASEAN Governments for Steps Taken on Mercury Cosmetics

Malaysia and other ASEAN countries have been praised by the Ecowaste Coalition in the Philippines for recent measures taken to break the unlawful trade of dangerous cosmetics containing mercury. Here’s the full text of their press release on the matter.



EcoWaste Coalition Lauds ASEAN Governments for Steps Taken on Mercury Cosmetics

14 July 2023, Quezon City. The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition gave the health authorities of Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand a pat on the back for the latest steps they have taken to protect their citizens from being harmed by mercury in cosmetics.

Based on the advisories circulated from January to July 2023 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines, the 4 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) banned at least 25 cosmetics for containing mercury as reported in the ASEAN Post-Marketing Alert System (PMAS).

“We recognise the efforts of the health authorities in Southeast Asia to monitor, analyse and prohibit products not compliant with the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive, which, among other things, prohibits mercury and other hazardous substances in the composition of cosmetic products,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“We also appreciate the work of our FDA to disseminate the results of the post-marketing surveillance and analytical activities by its counterpart agencies in the ASEAN bloc as some of these products may be accessible to Filipino consumers via e-commerce,” she added.

The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency, Ministry of Health Malaysia, tested and found 12 cosmetics contaminated with mercury, including Airee Beautycare Night Cream, Flashhskinzz Beauty Treatment Cream, Flashhskinzz Moist Sunscreen, Karisma Preventing Day Cream, Karisma Turmeric Booster Cream, Momila Whitening Cream, Nina Skincare Skin Puteh Treatment Moisturizer, Serene Beauty Set Jerawat Treatment Cream, Skin Dessert Moisturizer Treatment, SL Two Classic Kunyit, Sweet 13 Skincare Treatment Moisturizer, and Tempias Hawa Master Recovery Skin.

The Department of Food and Drug Administration, Ministry of Health Myanmar, detected mercury in 6 cosmetic products, namely: Aifubao Whitening Red Ginseng Whitening Anti-Freckle Trial Pack (Night Cream), Caiyilin (Bird’s Nest) Herb Whitening Night Cream, Lalcume Excellent Day Cream Fade-Out Cream, Lalcume Excellent Night Cream Whitening Cream, O White Extra Cream, and Sky & Pearl Collagen Whitening Moisturizing Day & Night.

The Food and Drug Administration of Thailand likewise found 6 products laced with mercury such as KT Night Cream, Light White Body Cream, NP Skin Ideal Skin Care CM-II Arbutin Night Cream, NP Skin Ideal Skin Care Turmeric Night Repair Treatment, P.U. Light Aura Bright, and P.Y. Facial Skin Cream.

The Department of Pharmaceutical Services, Ministry of Health Brunei Darussalam also found Collagen Plus Vit E Day & Night Cream laden with mercury.

As stated in the FDA-issued advisories, the main adverse effect of exposure to inorganic mercury (e.g. ammoniated mercury) is kidney damage as per the World Health Organization (WHO). Mercury in cosmetics such as skin lightening products may also cause skin rashes, skin discolouration and scarring, as well as reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections. Exposed pregnant women and nursing mothers transfer the mercury to their fetuses, which can later result in neurodevelopmental deficits in the children.

According to the WHO, “mercury can be eliminated from skin lightening products by working with health and environmental ministries and raising public awareness about the dangers to health from mercury and other hazardous chemicals in (such products). To stop the manufacture, import or export of skin lightening products in line with the Minamata Convention, regulatory actions by governments are needed – including training of customs agents – as well as major media and advocacy campaigns.”

Aside from mercury, FDA’s counterpart agencies in the region have also taken action against products containing other hazardous substances of concern, including betamethasone valerate 17, CI 15585, clobetasol propionate, hydroquinone, o-aminophenol, rhodamine B, steroid, and tretinoin.