Quezon City bans cosmetics with high levels of mercury

December 10, 2018

TO intensify its efforts to crack down on dangerous skin whitening products laden with mercury, the Quezon City government has approved an ordinance banning the manufacture, distribution and selling cosmetics containing mercury above the regulatory limit.

Mayor Herbert Bautista recently approved Ordinance No. 2767 which states that business and commercial establishments, as well as street, “tiangge” and online vendors are forbidden from manufacturing, distributing and selling cosmetics containing mercury above the one part per million (ppm) limit set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in line with the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

The ordinance introduced by Councilor Elizabeth A. Delarmente was approved by the City Council on Oct. 8.

Also prohibited under the ordinance is the sale, wholesale or retail, of cosmetics that have not been authorized by the FDA and/or have not complied with the labeling requirements and the  open dumping, open burning and/or disposal of banned, recalled and/or confiscated mercury-containing cosmetics along with regular solid waste.”

Cosmetics, including skin lightening creams and soaps, with mercury content above 1 ppm, are targeted for global phase-out by 2020 under the Minamata Convention on Mercury,  which the Philippines has signed but not yet ratified.

As noted in the ordinance’s introductory text, “mercury use in cosmetic products can have adverse effects, including skin rashes, discoloring and scarring, and can reduce skin’s resistance to bacterial and mycotic skin disorders, and can cause damage to the brain, nervous system and violators of the ordinance will be penalized with a fine of P2,000 and confiscation of banned cosmetic products for the first offense; a fine of P3,000 and suspension to operate business for the second offense; and a fine of P5,000, imprisonment of 30 days or cancellation of business license, or both, at the discretion of the court.

Additionally, all those convicted by the court shall be required to render 30-day community service to be determined by the local government authorities concerned.

Meanwhile, the environment-advocate group EcoWaste Coalition lauded the city government for cracking down on the illegal trade of mercury-containing creams, lotions and soaps that are marketed to lighten the skin color and fix skin woes.

“We’re happy to have provided the City Council with relevant information justifying a clampdown on such dangerous products through our active presence in several committee meetings,” said Thony Dizon, the group’s chemical safety campaigner.