New York bans cosmetics containing deadly mercury amid health concerns

New York bans cosmetics containing mercury, becoming the third country to do so.

The new lawThe drug, signed by Gov. Cathy Hochul in December, will go into effect June 1 and will ban the sale of any beauty goods containing the potentially dangerous neurotoxin.

It was Mercury associated with a number of debilitating and harmful health effectsThey range from irritability and depression to tremor, sensory changes, and numbness in the hands, feet, or face.

Accordingly, “high exposure may also cause effects on the kidneys, respiratory failure, and death.” to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Usually the chemical Found in cosmetics that are produced outside the United States and then sold in the country illegally – namely in the products they promote “anti-aging” or “skin lightening” Properties. Mercury acts as a bleaching agent in some creams. I mentioned attraction.

“There is a really strong association between racism and the use of cosmetics, especially skin-lightening creams,” said Sonal Jessel, Policy Director at WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Gothamist said.

Mercury containing productsAlthough it is illegal in the United States, it can be purchased online via social media or apps – in particular, targeting people with darker skin.

Skin whitening cosmetic products
Mercury is commonly found in products originating outside the United States, and it has an extensive list of harmful health consequences at high levels.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

Mercury is known by many monikers “mercuric chloride,” “calomel,” “mercury,” and “mercurio,” and mercury not only harms the user—it can even affect their family. According to the Food and Drug Administration, the user’s family can be exposed to the toxic chemical through fumes in the air or through sharing contaminated towels.

City health officials sounded alarm bells Before using creams and soaps that contain a chemical. Back then, officials searched store shelves, pulling potentially harmful products out of consumers’ reach — but now the state is cracking down on even more than that.

New law comes Just a month after a Minnesota woman lost her partial vision Due to mercury poisoning from cosmetic cream. Upon examining her blood and urine, doctors determined that the chemical was causing the severe symptoms of the woman, who was not publicly named.

When the poison control team first visited the woman’s home, she showed the poison control team skin-whitening creams from outside the country, and vowed not to use them anymore. In two of the products, CNN reported, the agency detected mercury levels “several thousand times higher” than allowed.

A second visit revealed that the woman had previously purchased additional products – in these cases not skin lighteners – that contained mercury, which was not mentioned on the product labels.

A person looking at shelves of beauty products
The law designates New York as the third state to ban the sale of mercury-containing cosmetics.
AFP via Getty Images

“People have no idea,” Dr. Erin Patdorf, who works with Minnesota Poison Control, told CNN. “Nobody wants to intentionally hurt themselves or their family members. But it’s there and you can’t see it, you can’t smell it. There’s no way [for consumers] to see if [mercury] In creams or not because they are not on the labels.

where The FDA does not require beauty brands to list every ingredient In their products, it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going on with users’ skin—and testing ingredients for every product that enters the country is an unfathomable task.

“There is no capacity to test every product that finds its way into the United States,” Tasha Stoeber, a senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, told Gothamist.

As of 2023, there are Only 11 ingredients Banned by the Food and Drug Administration in beauty products, but a late 2022 law dubbed in Law regulating the modernization of cosmeticsaims to change that.

After more than 8 decades of immutable beauty laws, the new law requires cosmetics manufacturers to report ingredients to the Food and Drug Administration, along with reports of “serious adverse events” and ingredient safety. Under the new law, the FDA also reserves the right to conduct mandatory recalls of products if it deems them unsafe.

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