Sunday, February 13, 2011

Public warned on toxic personal care products

A toxic watchdog will let loose tomorrow a Medusa-like villain in downtown Manila to warn consumers to be on alert against hazardous chemicals creeping around personal care products.

The EcoWaste Coalition will unleash “Valentoxic” — named after “Valentina,” the arch-foe of Pinoy comic book heroine “Darna” — in Plaza Sta. Cruz amid the steep sale of cosmetics as many Filipinos buy them as gifts or to enhance their looks for Valentine’s Day.

In her first public appearance, Valentoxic will draw public attention against mercury-added skin lightening products that are quite popular, especially among women and youth seeking to “improve” their skin complexion.

Like the Greek Medusa and the Pinoy Valentina, Valentoxic has “snakes” for hair that will be accented with small bottles of skin whitening creams that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had previously banned for containing elevated levels of mercury.

From the plaza, Valentoxic will go from one Chinese drug store to another in Sta. Cruz and Quiapo, Manila to give shop owners copies of the FDA’s four ban orders in 2010 and the latest EcoWaste Coalition’s poster on chemical safety that tackles mercury in cosmetics.

“Valentoxic in her debut is calling attention to the ‘out of control’ sale of banned skin lightening products that poison unsuspecting consumers with mercury, a dangerous neurotoxin,” said Aileen Lucero, safe cosmetics campaigner of the EcoWaste Coalition.

Among the groups who will take part in the pre-Valentine action for mercury-free cosmetics include the Alaga LAHAT, Angkan ng Mandirigma, Ang NARS, Asitra, Buklod Tao, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, and Zero Waste Philippines.

“Despite repeated warnings from government regulators and threats of legal action, we still find the recalled dangerous products in the market,” bewailed Lucero who, along with volunteers, conducted test buys of the proscribed items.

“Most shops that we went to sell the banned items openly, giving official or informal receipts upon request. While others sell them under-the-counter, refusing to provide any proof of purchase,” she said.

“The results of our test buys should provoke the health and police authorities to take stern action to close down the illicit trade that constitutes direct threat to public welfare,” she added.

From February 1 to 10, EcoWaste Coalition’s AlerToxic Patrollers succeeded in buying 13 of the 28 FDA-blacklisted and banned skin whitening products in “tiangge” stalls, health supplements shops in malls and in Chinese drug stores located in Caloocan City, Las Piñas City, Makati City, Malabon City, Mandaluyong City, Manila, Pasay City, Quezon City, Valenzuela City and in Angono, Rizal.

Among the banned items still on sale in the market are those recalled in January 2010 (Jiaoli Miraculous Cream, Jiaoli Huichusu Cream), February 2010 (Jiaoli 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle AB Set, Jiaoli 10-Days Eliminating Freckle Day and Night Set), June 2010 (Doctor Bai Intensive White Revitalizing and Speckle Removing Set, Gemli Glutathione Hydrolyzed Collagen Whitening and Anti-Aging Cream, JJJ Magic Spots Removing Cream, Shengli Day and Night Cream, S’Zitang Cream) and in August 2010 (Beauty Girl Aloe Pearl, Beauty Girl Ginseng and Green Cucumber, Beauty Girl Olive and Sheep Essence, St. Dalfour Beauty Whitening Cream).

A “Health Alert” issued by the California Department of Public Health in May 2010 identified several symptoms of mild to moderate mercury toxicity due to the reported use of unlabeled, non-prescription facial cream for lightening the skin, fading freckles and age spots, and for treating acne.

According to the “Mercury Poisoning Linked to Use of Face Lightening Cream,” symptoms of mercury toxicity may include nervousness and irritability, difficulty with concentration, headache, tremors, memory loss, depression, insomnia, weight loss and fatigue.

Other symptoms may include numbness or tingling in hands, feet, or around the lips.

Toxic effects on the kidneys may cause proteinuria, nephrotic syndrome and renal tubular acidosis.

Gingivitis may also be observed.


Post a Comment