Zero Mercury Working Group organized a side event on Skin Lightening Products and measures to restricts them on 27 November in Geneva, Switzerland. They reveled a joint study report findings of 2019 on ‘Dangerous, mercury-laden and often illegal skin-lightening products’ and also disclosed the report in this event. Among others, Dr. Shahriar Hossain, Secretary General ESDO, spoke as keynote speaker at this Event at Minamata COP3.
Extensive testing by the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) again confirms that local markets and also internet platforms such as Amazon and eBay (along with many other online internet marketers worldwide), are selling toxic, dangerous and often illegal skin lighteners that have been already identified by many governments around the world as over the legal limit. Further, e-commerce giants have failed to ensure that cosmetics sold through their sites directly or by third-party sellers are free of toxic and illegal substances like mercury.
In this study, the collection of samples was carried out by non-governmental organization (NGO) partners of the ZMWG. 158 samples (mainly creams, two serums and two soaps) were bought from both physical shops and large and frequently used e-commerce platforms in the 12 countries participating in the study. After testing, 95 of them, therefore 60%, were found to violate the limit of one part per million (ppm) of mercury that many countries have fixed as a legal limit.
For those products found to have mercury levels over 1 ppm, their contents ranged from 40 ppm to over 130,000 ppm. Most creams were analyzed with X-ray fluorescence (XRF), but 47 were analyzed by accredited labs using Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy. Nine creams (or 9.5%) had mercury contents exceeding 100 000 times the allowed limit according to the Minamata Convention. Sixty-five of the non-compliant creams (or 68%) were bought online.
Based on the information from the packaging, most of the high-mercury products tested were manufactured in Asia, especially in Pakistan (62%), Thailand (19%) and China (13%). However, it’s important to note that the study did not test products from Latin America.