Almost half of skin ‘bleaching’ creams contain mercury, review finds

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An alarming number of skin lightening creams on the market may contain illegal levels of mercury. Getty Images

Researchers analyzed over 100 popular skin-lightening or so-called “whitening” products sold on platforms such as Amazon and eBay for mercury.

They found that almost half of these cosmetics contained mercury above legal limits.

As a heavy metal, mercury is highly toxic to humans and can cause severe symptoms.

Researchers are urging people to stop using skin-lightening products to avoid mercury exposure.

Skin-lightening and skin ‘whitening’ products (SLPs) are available worldwide. A recent review of these products currently on the market has found that many still contain dangerous levelsTrusted Source of mercury.

Mercury in cosmetics, especially in skin-lightening creams, is not unheard of. The chemical is widely used in such products due to its ability to suppress melanin production, which gives color to the skin, and lighten hyperpigmentation such as dark spots, freckles, and blemishesTrusted Source.

However, mercury is highly toxic to human health.

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) analyzed 271 SLPs from over 40 online platforms, including Amazon, eBay, and Aliexpress.

They found that 129 of the products tested contained mercury levels exceeding 1 ppm, the international legal limit set by the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

“We have conducted this type of sampling three times already, so I would not say we were very surprised by the findings,” Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, policy manager at the Zero Mercury Campaign, told Medical News Today.

“However, it is rather worrying that these creams are found to be available, over and over again with very high mercury, in more platforms around the world, in all regions, and in comparison to our last survey,” she said.

The report was published by the European Environmental Bureau.

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Enter your email Your privacy is important to us The dangers of mercury Regular use of SLPs containing mercury reduces resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, rashes, skin discoloration, and blotchy skin.

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