February 29, 2024

Advocates tag underarm cream as unsafe

BAN Toxics raises the alarm over the proliferation of 88 Total White Underarm Cream imported from Thailand despite the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued ban due to the presence of highly toxic mercury.

The group made the call after a series of market monitoring surveillance conducted at various health and beauty shops in Caloocan, Makati, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon, and Taguig Cities.

In 2021, the FDA issued public health warning Advisory No. 2021-1187 against the purchase and use of unauthorized cosmetic 88 TOTAL WHITE UNDERARM CREAM, verified and showed no valid Certificate of Product Notification (CPN). Furthermore, the manufacture, importation, exportation, sale, offering for sale, distribution, transfer, non-consumer use, promotion, advertising, or sponsorship of any health product without the proper authorization from the FDA is prohibited.

Using a SCIAPS X Series HH XRF Analyzer, the group screened the underarm cream, which tested positive for toxic mercury (Hg) having a high concentration of up to 1,535 part per million (ppm), way beyond the 1 ppm limit set by the agency, and as published in the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

A naturally occurring heavy metal, mercury is known to be severely hazardous to health, even in small amounts.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), kidney damage is the main adverse effect of exposure to inorganic mercury. Mercury may also cause skin rashes, skin discoloration and scarring, and a reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections.

 “We urge the local government officials to immediately conduct inspection and confiscation on the continuous selling of already banned underarm whitening creams and protect the consumers from toxic chemical exposure,” said Thony Dizon, Toxics Campaigner, BAN Toxics. 

“The unwarranted selling of banned and prohibited whitening cosmetics violates the existing regulations of the Department of Health, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Minamata Convention on Mercury – an international agreement established to protect human health and the environment from emissions and releases of mercury and mercury compounds caused by human activity,” the group added. 

Article 4 of the Minamata Convention on Mercury prohibits the manufacture, import, or export of specific mercury-added products after 2020. The article requires all cosmetic products to have a mercury concentration of less than one ppm.

The public is advised not to purchase the unauthorized cosmetic product. Always check for the FDA notification on products. All concerned establishments are warned not to distribute violative cosmetic products until the