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High mercury levels in cosmetics

The national standard for mercury content in cosmetics is below 1 part per million.

The national standard for mercury content in cosmetics is below 1 part per million.

About 23 percent of the whitening and freckle-reducing cosmetic products consumers can easily find on the market contain excessive mercury, a survey by several environmental protection organizations showed on Tuesday, the Beijing News reported.

The national standard for mercury content in cosmetics is below 1 part per million. But the mercury content found in the problematic sample products exceeded standards by 18 to 44,000 times.

Volunteers from environmental protection organizations randomly selected 477 whitening and freckle-reducing products in 10 cities across China and used X-ray fluorescenece to test the heavy metals in them.

Selected samples varied in price and sales channels, from online to offline stores. But many of the problematic products were bought in wholesale markets.

"None of the 112 problematic products have cited the content of heavy metals in their trade description, which is against the law," said Wang Qiuxia, a researcher from Daerwen Environmental Institute.

According to the World Health Organization, the presence of mercury in cosmetics can lead to kidney damage, depression, anxiety, mental disorders, a deteriorated immune system and several other disorders.

Hao Fengtong, a chief physician of Occupational Diseases and Poisoning Medicine Department at Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, said that the amount of female patients suffering from mercury poisoning his department receives, has been rising over recent years. Hao also suggested that consumers buy qualified brand cosmetics in official stores.

(China.org.cn April 12, 2012)








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