A new study by the NGO Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) on Wednesday said that several popular cosmetics are loaded with toxic heavy metals such as mercury and nickel. CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Lab (PML), which conducted the study, said it found mercury in 44 per cent of the fairness creams it tested. Chromium was found in 50 per cent and nickel in 43 per cent of the lipstick samples tested. The lab also tested for lead and cadmium, but did not find any.
As many as 73 cosmetic products from four categories were tested for heavy metals — 32 fairness creams were tested for mercury, while 30 lipsticks, 8 lip balms and 3 anti-ageing creams were tested for lead, cadmium, chromium and nickel. “Aroma Magic Fair Lotion, a product of Blossom Kochhar Beauty Products Pvt Ltd, had the highest mercury level at 1.97 ppm, followed by Olay Natural White (1.79 ppm), a product of Procter and Gamble, India, and Ponds White Beauty (1.36 ppm) of Hindustan Unilever Ltd,” said a CSE statement.
Chromium was found in 15 out of 30 lipsticks in the range of 0.45 ppm to 17.83 ppm. “Hearts & Tarts (080V) shade of ColorBar had the highest concentration. Nickel was found in 13 out of 30 products in the range of 0.57 to 9.18 ppm, with LancomeLabsolu Nu-204 of L’Oreal India Pvt. Ltd. containing the highest concentration,” the CSE statement said.
“Mercury is not supposed to be present in cosmetic products. Its mere presence is illegal. The fact that our lab did not find mercury in 56 per cent of the products tested suggests the industry has the capacity to clean up its act. Many companies are following the law; what is stopping others from doing so?” said CSE director general Sunita Narain.
CSE compared the levels of heavy metals found with their Acceptable Daily Intake limits — the maximum amount of a toxin a person can be exposed to over a lifetime without any appreciable health risk.
CSE said it had approached the companies for clarification.