Fairness Creams And Lipsticks Contain Toxic Heavy Metals: CSE - The New Indian Express

Fairness Creams And Lipsticks Contain Toxic Heavy Metals: CSE

Published: 15th January 2014 07:17 PM

Last Updated: 15th January 2014 07:17 PM

Fairness creams may contain toxic heavy metals like mercury while lipsticks may be tainted with carcinogenic chromium, finds a new study released today.               

Centre for Science and Environment's (CSE's) laboratory in Delhi, which did the study, found mercury in 44 per cent of the 32 fairness creams it tested.           

It also found chromium in 50 per cent and nickel in 43 per cent of the 30 lipstick samples. The report from CSE said they found mercury in 14 fairness creams 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.     

A neurotoxin, mercury can damage kidneys and may cause rashes, skin discolouration and scarring besides resulting in anxiety, depression, psychosis and peripheral neuropathy. Chromium was found in 15 out of 30 lipsticks tested in the range of 0.45 ppm to 17.83 ppm while nickel was found in 13 out of 30 products tested in the range of 0.57 to 9.18 ppm.    

Hexavalent chromium, one of the forms in which chromium is present, is known to cause cancer in humans.                

Eminent environmentalist and CSE director general Sunita Narain said, "Mercury is not supposed to be present in cosmetic products. Their mere presence in these products is completely illegal and unlawful".  

The researchers however, did not find any heavy metals in anti-ageing creams and lip balms. The study did not detect lead and cadmium in lipsticks.                

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

He said that manufacturers often get away on the pretext that toxic metals are present in trace levels as limits for final products are not set.        One of the fastest growing industries in India, it is estimated that the cosmetic industry sold products worth Rs 26,410 crore in 2011.

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