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Originally published May 7 2008

Minnesota Bans Mercury in Cosmetics

by Jo Hartley

(NaturalNews) Minnesota is the first in the nation to ban intentionally-added mercury in cosmetic products. Minnesota will now have a more stringent standard than the federal government. The federal government currently allows a small amount of mercury as a preservative in eye makeup.

The implications of this new law have already been felt on a national level, however. Many leading cosmetics companies are now being forced to adapt their formulations in order to comply with Minnesota's requirements. Minnesota lawmakers say they passed the bill with hopes that other states will also do so, thereby forcing the federal government to ban it nationwide.

Retailers who knowingly sell cosmetics containing mercury could face fines of up to $700. Penalties could also reach $10,000 for manufacturers who do not disclose mercury on product labels.

The cosmetics provision is part of a bigger ban that is targeting better-known sources of mercury. Thermostats, barometers, industrial switches and medical devices are also being targeted. The law also covers toiletries, fragrances and over-the-counter drugs like eye drops, nasal sprays, hemorrhoid treatments and antiseptics.

It is not known how many beauty products containing mercury are sold in Minnesota. This law is intended to be a warning to cosmetics manufacturers to discontinue the use of mercury. Enforcement will happen primarily when there are consumer complaints.

No other state has specifically targeted mercury in cosmetics. Connecticut, Rhode Island and Louisiana ban products that contain more than low levels of mercury. New York and Illinois prohibit consumer products with mercury.

Personal care products contain many potentially toxic chemicals. Moreover, many ingredients are not listed on labels. Most makeup manufacturers have discontinued the use of mercury. It is still legal to add it to some eye products as a preservative and germ-killer, however. Federal law currently allows cosmetic eye products to contain up to 65 parts per million of mercury.

Using eye makeup that contains mercury is unlikely to cause immediate health problems. However, mercury accumulates in the body. Consumers should avoid exposure whenever possible for this reason. Mercury can retard brain development in children and fetuses. This group is the most vulnerable to mercury's toxic effects. Mercury can also cause neurological symptoms in adults.

Mercury fumes can accumulate inside a jar of skin cream or a tube of mascara. If someone inhales the fumes when the container is opened, that would be a potential toxic exposure. Imported skin-lightening creams and soaps that have high levels of mercury have been discovered in other states. These are illegal under federal law. Skin products that contain mercury are more dangerous than eye make-up that contains mercury because people apply larger quantities to their bodies.

Now Minnesota lawmakers have decided to step out with this law making it illegal to sell or distribute cosmetics, toiletries and fragrances containing mercury within their state borders.

About the author

Jo Hartley
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 41 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything! - Current Events - Simply Abundant Living

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