44% of skin whitening creams in India found to contain toxic mercury

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: skin whitening creams, toxic mercury, India

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(NaturalNews) Despite its illegality as a contaminant in cosmetics sold in the second most populous country in the world, the heavy metal mercury is still reportedly found in nearly half of all skin-whitening creams sold in India. DNA India reports that the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in New Delhi recently found that 44 percent of all fairness creams evaluated as part of a new study tested positive for the brain-damaging toxin, which is still intentionally added to some vaccines.

Researchers from CSE's Pollution Monitoring Lab (PML) say they found a host of heavy metals and other contaminants in the skin-whitening creams they tested. Using the acceptable daily intake (ADI) limits established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- India does not currently have its own established ADI limits -- the team uncovered a shocking level of contamination within the cosmetics industry.

Of the 73 cosmetic products tested from four different categories, 32 of them tested positive for mercury, with more than 81 percent from this group marketed to women. Included in the mix were 30 different lipstick products, eight lip balms, and three anti-aging creams, many of which tested positive for not only mercury but also other contaminants like chromium and nickel.

"Mercury is not supposed to be present in cosmetic products," stated CSE director general Sunita Narain to reporters. "[Its] mere presence in these products is completely illegal and unlawful."

Half of all lipstick products found to contain cancer-causing cadmium

The fact that more than half of all the fairness creams tested did not contain mercury proves that manufacturers can avoid it if they are willing to put in the extra effort. But with lax regulatory requirements that are generally not even enforced, many cosmetics companies are getting away with what CSE suggests is criminal behavior.

"[T]he fact that our lab did not find mercury in 56 per cent of the products tested suggests that the industry has the capacity and wherewithal to clean up their act," added Narain. "Many companies are following the law -- what is stopping the others from doing so?"

Whitening creams were, of course, not the only products found to contain toxins. The same investigation revealed that more than half of all lipstick products are contaminated with cadmium, which a recent study published in Metal Ions in Life Sciences found is carcinogenic to both humans and animals.

When used twice daily as many women do, the lipsticks were found to provide more than 20 percent, on average, of the government ADI for not only cadmium but also aluminum and manganese. And some of the lipstick brands tested contained such high levels of cadmium that normal use would exceed the ADI limit for chromium.

"What is coming out very clearly is that this sector has extremely weak regulations and almost no enforcement of whatever laws that exist," stated Chandra Bhushan, head of the PML.

For a few ideas on some alternatives to conventional hair dyes, shampoos and lipsticks, be sure to check out this report at The Health Site:

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