FDA warns of mercury in imported cosmetics
A report released in March 2012 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed that mercury used in many different types of cosmetics can in fact be toxic.
The warning released by the FDA says that a number of skin creams, soaps and lotions on the market at that time were found to include mercury.
A number of the health and beauty products, which included lotions and creams intended to lighten the skin, remove spots, fade freckles, fight acne and even decrease the appearance of wrinkles, were generally imported from other countries, where production guidelines are different, and sold in shops on American soil. In the United States no more than 1 part per million of mercury is allowed in cosmetics by the FDA.
“If you have a product that matches these descriptions (and others listed below), stop using it immediately,” says Gary Coody, national health fraud coordinator in the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Regulatory Affairs.
“Even though these products are promoted as cosmetics, they also may be unapproved new drugs under the law,” says Linda Katz, M.D., director of FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors. FDA does not allow mercury in drugs or in cosmetics, except under very specific conditions, which these products do not meet.
“Sellers and distributors should not market these illegal products and may be subject to enforcement action, which could include seizure of the products and other legal sanctions,” says attorney Brad Pace, J.D., of the Heath Fraud and Consumer Outreach Branch within FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
The FDA report went on to state that it is possible to identify products that contain mercury simply by looking at the label. On an ingredient label, mercury will generally be called “mercury,” “mercurio,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” or even “mercurous chloride.”
Continued exposure to mercury from lotions and cosmetics can eventually cause kidney damage, nervous system issues and developmental problems in young children. A pregnant woman who uses mercury containing products chances damage to her unborn child.
“Exposure to mercury can have serious health consequences,” says Charles Lee, M.D., a senior medical advisor at FDA. “It can damage the kidneys and the nervous system, and interfere with the development of the brain in unborn children and very young children.”