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Sunday, 9 February 2014

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High mercury levels in cosmetics, a health risk

High levels of mercury were found in several samples of whitening creams according to a recent study by the Centre for Environmental Studies, Sri Lanka (CEJ).

"The study which we completed in December 2012, was on 'Mercury in Cosmetics'. We tested several samples (local and imported) whitening creams and found that the levels of mercury ranged from 0.5 parts per million (ppm) to 30,000 ppm", Technical Officer CEJ, Ms Chalani Rubesinghe told the Sunday Observer. "Mercury is used in whitening creams to prevent the formation of a natural pigment that makes the skin dark. this pigment (Melanie) protects the skin from the harmful effects of ultra violet rays (UVR) and too much exposure to UVR can lead to skin cancer", she said.

Due to this adverse health risk, the European Union (EU) had banned the use of mercury in whitening creams. "However some countries still permit a very low level of 1 ppm.", she said. Following the study, the CEJ recommended new regulations for the use of mercury in cosmetics to the Cosmetics Devices and Drugs Authority (CDDA). "We recommended that the level should be as low as 0.5 ppm or ban its use as in the EU.

Although recommendations had been made to the CDDA some time ago, they are yet to be gazetted. We hope the CDDA will expedite the matter since the health of the public is at risk", she said.

 

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