Medsafe is warning the public about high levels of mercury and lead in skin whitening or lightening creams after a case of possible mercury poisoning has been reported.
The director general of health issued a statement with the support of the Ministry of the Environment, advising against the use of three products in particular; Goree Lycopene Beauty Cream, Goree Oil-Free Day and Night Beauty Cream and Golden Pearl Beauty Cream.
“The products are not safe and should not be available to the public.”
High levels of mercury and possibly high levels of lead were found in samples of one of the products after an Upper North Island patient informed that he had used them.
Two other similar products that were tested were also found to contain high levels of mercury and lead.
The amount found in the samples varied between 12,200 parts per million (ppm) at 24,900 ppm of mercury and 0.1 ppm at 17,200 ppm of lead.
In addition to being in violation of international conventions on limiting mercury in cosmetics to 1 ppm, the levels of the chemicals would make the products prescription drugs, Medsafe said.
“Mercury and mercury salts are not allowed to be included in cosmetics in New Zealand except in certain limited circumstances,” he said.
“The products are not authorized for distribution as medicine in New Zealand, and the quality, safety and efficacy of these products have not been established.”
Following this discovery, Medsafe seized skin whitening creams containing mercury from a trader in Auckland.
The ministry hopes to reach other traders and users of the product, who may not be aware of its damage, with the alert.
In addition to the physical side effects, the ministry is also concerned that the mercury in these products could end up in wastewater, where it could enter other waterways and then into the food chain via fish.
People are advised to return products to where you bought them if possible, or contact your local landfill or city council to find out how you can safely dispose of them.
Anyone who has experienced adverse reactions from using these products should contact their local healthcare professional for advice and let them know that they are using a product that contains high levels of mercury and possibly high levels of lead.
The ministry said it was also aware that Brunei’s health ministry also alerted people to the presence of mercury in two of the products two years ago.
Anyone purchasing similar products, whether here or on the internet, should be careful because the presence of mercury is often not disclosed but included as an added ingredient, the ministry said.
Signs of mercury and lead poisoning
Symptoms of mercury poisoning vary widely depending on how you are exposed and for how long, but they include toxic effects on the nervous, digestive, and immune systems, as well as the lungs, kidneys, skin, and lungs. eyes.
More information is available on the ministry’s website.
Symptoms of lead poisoning also vary, but for children it can affect their neurodevelopment and gastrointestinal and nervous systems.
To learn more about lead, click here.