Medical experts highlight the imminent danger of using cosmetics that contain Mercury
Mercury Fact File
- Mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil.
- Exposure to mercury, even small amounts may cause serious health problems, and is a threat to the development of the child in womb and early in life.
- Mercury may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.
- Mercury is considered by World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.
- Mercury exists in various forms; elemental (or metallic) and inorganic.
Various cosmetic products are available in abundance in the market, but proper standards aren’t being maintained. It’s reported that some imported and non-regulated cosmetics are in the market and they contain Mercury, where the quantities used surpass the permitted limit. When scrutinizing these products neither the importer nor distributor is mentioned. Therefore, we have to be extra cautious when using cosmetics.
Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist at the Maharagama National Cancer Institute, Dr. Sarada Kannangara told Daily Mirror that cosmetics, which contain dangerous substances, had captured the local market, during the past two years, due to the lack of pertinent laws that regulate such products.
Dr. Kannangara said that clause 27 of the 1990 Medicine Act had been annulled in 2015 and a new Act was introduced, but it doesn’t contain sufficient provisions to regulate the import of cosmetics, leaving room for the import of low quality products.
“A wide range of low quality cosmetics is available under various brands. Several deaths have been reported as a result of allergic reactions to these products,” Dr. Kannangara affirmed.
He further said that most cosmetics contained mercury above the recommended limit to produce instant results. Dr. Kannangara added that these products often contributed to health hazards such as skin cancer.
A wide range of low quality cosmetics is available under various brands. Several deaths have been reported as a result of allergic reactions to these products, Mercury in cosmetic products can’t exceed 1 mole per kg. But, we have noticed that cosmetic manufacturers have exceeded these specifications, hence their users face severe consequences
“Mercury in cosmetic products can’t exceed 1 mole per kg. But, we have noticed that cosmetic manufacturers have exceeded these specifications, hence their users face severe consequences,” he added.
Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist Dr. Sarada Kannangara
The consequences of applying these toxic cosmetics are as follows,
- Numbness or pain in certain parts of the skin
- Uncontrollable shaking or tremor
- Inability to walk well
- Blindness and double vision
- Memory problems
- Seizures and death (with large exposures)
- Irritability and shyness
The above mentioned repercussions are the most common symptoms when using products made without adhering to safety regulations. We also get to hear of cosmetic users having being subject to hidden fatal infections and allergies, which are incurable.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), warns customers not to use products if the ingredients or the label aren’t displayed on the products.
“As Federal Law requires that ingredients be listed on the label of any cosmetic or non-prescription drug, don’t use products that don’t have a label. In addition, don’t use drugs or cosmetics labelled in languages other than English unless English labelling is also provided. That’s also a sign that the product may be marketed illegally,” the official site of the FDA states.
A prominent question raised is how a customer can know whether mercury has been used in a cosmetic product, especially in one that is marketed under the category ‘anti-aging’ or ‘skin lightening’? Check the label. If the words ‘mercurous chloride,’ ‘calomel,’ ‘mercuric,’ ‘mercurio,” or “mercury’ are mentioned on the label, it means mercury has been included. A customer is advised to stop using such products immediately.
The products are usually marketed as skin lighteners, ones that promote anti-aging and those that remove age spots, freckles, blemishes and wrinkles. Adolescents often use these products for acne treatment. Just because a product claims to be natural it doesn’t necessarily ensure safety as well. And also just because a product claims to be natural it doesn’t rule out the possibility of hidden drugs being used.
Furthermore, these products may also be contaminated or may include potentially harmful chemicals or drugs, not listed on the label. For example many products that promise to help people slim contain hidden and dangerous drugs (Issued only under prescriptions) such as sibutramine.
Jason Humbert from FDA’s Office of Regulatory Affairs says these products are usually manufactured abroad and sold illegally in the USA, often in shops catering to the Latino, Asian, African, or Middle Eastern communities. They are promoted online on social media sites and sold through mobile apps. Consumers may have purchased them from another country and brought them back to their respective countries.
It is vital to inform your health care professional what supplements you are taking, because supplements may interact in a harmful way with prescribed medications or prevent a prescribed drug from working.
During the past few years, FDA and state health officials have discovered numerous products that contain mercury. There have been cases where people exposed to such products have had mercury poisoning or elevated levels of mercury in their bodies.
It’s important to use products that will help your skin and not damage it. People should avoid using skin creams, beauty antiseptic soaps and lotions that contain mercury irrespective of the temporary results they produce.