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Abstract Title: Cosmetic containing mercury concentrations over 1 ppm and the Minamata Convention
Presenter Name: Michael Bender
Company/Institution: Zero Mercury Working Group
Session: How are we doing in implementing the Minamata Convention?
Day and Session: Monday 25th July - Session Four
Start Time: 15:30 UTC

Abstract Information :

The Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) has been investigating mercury-added skin lightening products (SLPs) for several years, primarily due to their health risks, illegality under national laws, and the prohibition by the Minamata Convention against the manufacture and trade of cosmetics containing mercury levels over 1 ppm, which became effective in 2021.
The toxic trade of often illegal mercury-added skin-lightening products (SLPs) is a global crisis expected to only worsen with skyrocketing demand and online access, especially in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, although other continents are also implicated. Mercury is often used in skin lighteners as it inhibits melanin and results in a lighter skin tone. However, the regular use of SLPs containing mercury can lead to rashes, skin discoloration, and blotching. Long-term exposure may damage the eyes, lungs, kidneys, digestive, immune and nervous systems.
Between 2018 and 2019, ZMWG conducted two separate investigations which confirmed continued online availability of illegal SLPs containing high mercury concentrations. Our 2022 report indicates the problem persists and is more widespread worldwide than previously thought.
Between 2020 and 2021, ZMWG sampled SLPs offered by over 40 online platforms that were accessed in 17 countries by our partner NGOs. Of the 271 SLPs tested, 129 were found to have mercury levels over 1 ppm. Nearly all of the high mercury SLPs listed in our earlier reports were available from over three times as many e-commerce platforms as those targeted in 2019.
Most of the products sampled were manufactured in Asia, especially in Pakistan (43%), Thailand (8%), China (6%), and Taiwan (4%), according to their packaging.
Our reports indicate that there is an urgent need for legal and programmatic reforms, enforcement and national, regional and international coordination to ensure compliance with the Minamata Convention in order to better protect consumers and their families from unsafe, illegal and counterfeit products. Importantly, there is also a need for mercury compounds, often used in SLPs, to be phased out under the Minamata Convention. For more information, see: https://www.zeromercury.org/mercury-added-skin-lightening-creams-campaign

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