Updated on May 31, 2021
5th Japan – ASEAN Medical Seminar on Human Health Impact of Heavy Metals held
The 5th Japan-ASEAN Medical Seminar entitled “Mercury Exposure and Health Problems: Using Illegal Skin-Lightening Cosmetic Products” was held as an online Zoom Webinar for the lecture “Mercury Exposure from Illegal Skin-Lightening Cosmetic Products in ASEAN Countries and Related Health Problems” by Dr.Hasriwiani Habo Abbas, Faculty of Public Health, Universitas Muslim Indonesia at 11 am – 12 pm Japan Standard Time (JST) on Saturday, May 29, 2021.
The seminar was organized by SRIREP Project, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN), Japan and supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).
The purpose of the seminar is to increase the awareness of the health problems related to the use of illegal skin-lightening cosmetic products containing mercury as they are highly popular among cosmetic users across the world.
First of all, Professor Masayuki Sakakibara, Project Leader of SRIREP Project, RIHN, gave an opening speech and explained Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) and his SRIREP Project to the audience.
After that, Dr. Hasriwiani Habo Abbas gave her lecture including the topics: 1) the “easy to get” availability of illegal skin-lightening cosmetics across the world, especially in Asian countries including ASEAN countries, through social websites and online stores, 2) mercury-containing illegal skin-lightening cosmetics, and health problems such as mercury poisoning due to the repeated use of the product for a long period of time, and 3) her research on “mercury exposure and health problems of students using whitening cosmetics and pregnant mothers in Macassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia”.
In this seminar, Mr. Myo Han Htun, research associate of SRIREP Project, RIHN acted as a moderator and dr. Basri, lecturer and researcher, College of Health Sciences Makassar, Southeast Sulawesi Province, Indonesia and dr. Win Thiri Kyaw, Ph.D., medical researcher, SRIREP project, RIHN acted as translators for English to Indonesian and English to Myanmar respectively for the audiences from Indonesia and Myanmar.
Dr. Hasriwiani Habo Abbas answered the questions of the audiences during Q and A section. During the discussion, she informed the audience how the community can prevent the health hazards of skin-lightening products containing mercury including 1) the advice not to use the skin-lightening cosmetics that have not been registered in FDA, 2) advice on implementing compliance and enforcing the law, 3) a proposal made to medical personnel to widely provide users and communities with information on risks related to illegal skin-lightening products containing mercury and raise awareness of the dangers of mercury.
The number of registrants is 369 persons, and the total number of attendees is 217: 143 from Indonesia, 56 from Myanmar, 14 from Japan, 3 from Ecuador, and 1 from Singapore (excluding the panelists). Attendees of this 5th seminar are government staff, researchers, lecturers, and students of universities, media-related persons, journalists, NGOs, engineers, and medical doctors. In addition, the number of attendees who joined the seminar for over 30 minutes is 141 (64.9% of the total attendees).
The post-seminar questionnaire survey was conducted to the audience regarding the use of illegal skin-lightening cosmetics containing mercury, and their perception (change in their values) of the danger of mercury. 75 attendees took part in that questionnaire survey and 61 attendees showed their interest to join Mercury-free Society Networks (MFSN).