A new examination of hundreds of products sold on online marketplaces like eBay, Alibaba, and Amazon uncovered widespread mercury poisoning in skin whitening and anti-aging products.
Over 13 months, the Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) examined 271 products purchased in 15 countries and discovered that over half were polluted with toxic heavy metals at levels greater than 1 part per million (ppm), the legal limit in the United States. Meanwhile, the EU prohibits the use of mercury in cosmetics.
Most contaminated products were not manufactured by well-known American or European brands. These were, however, discovered in Pakistani, Mexican, Chinese, and Thai brands that are occasionally popular in those countries.
“It is alarming that these online manufacturers continue to sell, promote, and profit from illegal products that do severe harm to consumers,” said Michael Bender, the Mercury Policy Project’s international coordinator.
Mercury is utilized as a skin lightening agent because it inhibits melanin synthesis. It imparts color to the skin and can be used to diminish the appearance of spots, freckles, blemishes, and wrinkles. According to ZMWG, some analysts predict that skin-lightening product sales will reach about $12 billion globally by 2026.
Mercury poisoning can result in serious injury, including rashes, kidney problems, and damage to the neurological system. Are you aware that skin bleaching lotions might cause cancer? The ZMWG, an international coalition of over 110 public health advocacy organizations, detected levels as high as 65,000 parts per million.
“We are not detecting 1ppm – we are detecting hundreds, thousands, or tens of thousands of times above [1ppm],” Bender explained. “These are astronomical levels.”
The most recent analysis draws on three rounds of testing conducted by ZMWG previously. Several brands allegedly removed tainted samples from stores following preliminary tests. However, recent research discovered that many of the same companies continued to sell mercury-contaminated products.
For a long time, complexes that prioritize white over dark have existed throughout the planet. As such, fairness creams have benefited from this thinking for years. Being shady or dusky has traditionally been frowned upon, particularly in the subcontinent.
It is customary for girls to be instructed not to drink tea since it will darken their skin in India and Pakistan. Even newborn infants are massaged with ‘ubtan’ to make them more even because you cannot be beautiful if you are unjust.
Numerous Pakistani celebrities have already come under fire for advertising cosmetic products amid the colorism scandal. When Ayeza Khan chose an advertisement in which she credited a beauty cream with her achievements, Amna Ilyas called her out.