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.