FDA widens mercury skin lightening cream investigation


FDA widens mercury-skin lightening cream investigation
By Ellen Gabler and Sam Roe
Tribune staff reporters
May 28, 2010

Mercury, a known toxin, is banned in skin-bleaching or lightening creams. The products are used to lighten complexions, eliminate age spots or diminish freckles. Mercury is sometimes illegally added to creams because the metal blocks production of melanin, which gives skin its pigmentation. Mercury is rapidly absorbed through the skin and can cause severe health effects, including neurological and kidney damage.

In its investigation, the Tribune sent 50 creams to a certified lab for testing. Six of the creams were found to contain amounts of mercury banned by federal law. Of those, five had more than 6,000 parts per million of mercury — enough to potentially cause kidney damage over time, according to a medical expert.

Read the whole story here: FDA widens mercury-skin lightening cream investigation

Additional reporting here:
Some skin whitening creams contain toxic mercury, testing finds
High levels found as products gain popularity worldwide


Connecticut In 2002, Connecticut enacted a law that: • implements a phase-out of many mercury-added products –effective July 1, 2006 the sale or distribution of mercury-added products containing more than one hundred milligrams or 50 parts per million of mercury is prohibited (with some exceptions for mercury-containing lamps), unless the product is specifically exempted from the statutory phase-out requirements.

Amalgam fillings contain 500,000 parts per million of mercury. Each filling has about 3/4 of a gram of mercury, the same as a mercury thermometer, also banned under the statute..

(products subject to this phase-out under these provisions include household mercury thermostats, various chemical reagents, and mercury added switches including float switches and pressure switches);

• requires product labeling for most mercury-added products;

• bans the sale or distribution of certain mercury products;

• requires the manufacturers to initiate collection programs for many mercury-added products;

• establishes best management practices for dentists; and

• limits the sale of elemental mercury.

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