In a not-so-recent report analyzing various skin creams, it was revealed that skin whitening cream you may be using could very well contain high levels of mercury – a toxic metal tied to numerous health problems. The news is concerning, as our current society pushes for flawless appearance, leading to the heavy usage of many consumer products.
Skin Whitening Cream Often Contains Toxic Mercury
The investigation was carried out by the Chicago Tribune, where 50 skin-lightening creams were sent out for certified lab testing. It was found that 6 of the 50 contained amounts of mercury banned by federal law. What’s more, 5 of the 6 contained mercury at levels greater than 6,000 parts per million – an amount capable of causing kidney damage over time.
The reason for such alarming levels of mercury? According to the Tribune, FDA spokesman Ira Allen said that the agency is unable to check all food, drug, and cosmetic products under jurisdiction while having less than 500 inspectors to review. “It is likely that things get past us,” he said.
Mercury is, or was, actually used in skin whitening cream to block melanin production, which gives hair and skin their pigmentation. While other chemicals can be used to achieve this block, mercury is inexpensive and effective, said Ellen Silbergeld, a professor of environmental health science at Johns Hopkins University. What’s interesting is that the Food and Drug Administration banned mercury in skin-bleaching or lightening products and other cosmetics back in 1990, but the agency doesn’t test the products to see if consumers are at risk – whether it be due to lack of resources, or any other reason.
In fact, mercury is such an issue in skincare products that the FDA recently issued a warning to consumers over mercury content of many ‘off-brand’ personal care products. According to the FDA report, the common culprits are marketed as skin whitening cream and anti-aging products. The agency also states that mercury-containing skin products were found in at least seven states, including Texas, California, Virginia, Maryland, New York and Minnesota. The FDA findings also reached similar conclusions to the independent analysis by the Chicago Tribune, with face cream tested by the agency containing mercury up to 131,000 times more than the allowable level.
Sadly, mercury is actually a huge problem not only in consumer products, but in food as well. Mercury is so prevalent that you could say we’re currently experiencing a hidden mercury pandemic; here’s some products to avoid in order to lower daily mercury exposure.