High metal content in some fairness products, claims study


Lord of Penmai
Jul 5, 2011
High metal content in some fairness products, claims study

The fairness creams - ones which are endorsed by some of our biggest Bollywood names - could contain mercury, an element which is universally recognised as extremely toxic. Lipsticks, which many of us can't do without, may come packed with chromium, which is carcinogenic.

These and many more disturbing facts were revealed by one of India's largest studies on the presence of heavy metals in cosmetics conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment's (CSE's) Pollution Monitoring Lab (PML). Use of mercury in cosmetics is prohibited in India. PML found mercury in 44% per of the fairness creams it tested. It also found chromium in 50% and nickel in 43% of the lipstick samples it tested. The lab also tested for lead and cadmium, but did not find any.

According director general of CSE, Sunita Narain, "Mercury is not supposed to be present in cosmetic products. Their mere presence in these products is completely illegal and unlawful." "Additionally, the fact that our lab did not find mercury in 56% of the products tested suggests that the industry has the capacity and wherewithal to clean up their act. Many companies are following the law - what is stopping the others from doing so?" she asked.

Deputy director general of CSE, Chandra Bhushan, said: "What is coming out very clearly is that this sector has extremely weak regulations and almost no enforcement of whatever laws that exist."

According to a press statement as per CSE study and its findings 73 cosmetic products of four different categories -- 32 fairness creams (26 for women and six for men) were tested for mercury. 30 lipsticks, eight lip balms and three anti-ageing creams -- were tested for heavy metals viz lead, cadmium, chromium and nickel. The samples included Indian and international cosmetic brands along with a few herbal products.

As per the findings, of the 32 fairnes creams tested mercury was found in 14 of them in the range of 0.10 parts per million (ppm) to 1.97 ppm. Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Acts and Rules of India, mercury is banned for use in cosmetics. Their presence in these products indicates that they are not meeting the law.

Of the 30 lipsticks tested, chromium was found in 15 in the range of 0.45 ppm to 17.83 ppm.

Nickel was found in 13 out of 30 products tested in the range of 0.57 to 9.18 ppm.

CSE did not find any heavy metals in anti-aging creams and lip balms. It also didn't detect lead and cadmium in lipsticks.

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