Traces of mercury, chromium found in Indian cosmetics

Traces of mercury, chromium found in Indian cosmetics

Cosmetics in India, some of which are endorsed by well known celebrities, have portions of mercury and chromium in them, reveals a recent study.

The use of mercury and chromium in cosmetics is prohibited in India.

Mercury, which is used in fairness creams is universally recognised as extremely toxic, while chromium, which causes cancer, is used in lipsticks.  

A recent study by the Centre for Science and Environment's (CSE's) Pollution Monitoring Lab (PML) found mercury in 44 percent of the fairness creams it tested. It also found chromium in 50 percent and nickel in 43 percent of the lipstick samples it tested, said a statement.

"Mercury is not supposed to be present in cosmetic products. Their mere presence in these products is completely illegal and unlawful," CSE director general Sunita Narain said in a statement.

She also added that since 56 percent of products tested mercury-free, the industry does have the capability to "clean up their act".

"Many companies are following the law - what is stopping the others from doing so," Narain added.

The study tested 73 cosmetic products of four different categories for heavy metals: 32 fairness creams (26 for women and six for men) were tested for mercury.

30 lipsticks, eight lip balms and three anti-ageing creams were tested for lead, cadmium, chromium and nickel.

The samples included Indian and international cosmetic brands along with a few herbal products.

Chandra Bhushan, CSE deputy director general, feels that the cosmetic industry in India lacks proper rules and regulations.

"What is coming out very clearly is that this sector has extremely weak regulations and almost no enforcement of whatever laws that exist," said Bhushan in the statement.

CSE has approached companies who use these heavy elements. The companies claim that the use of these elements is unavoidable because they are a part of the ingredients. They also feel that their products are safe for long term use.

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