Industry evades responsibility for heavy metals in cosmetics

Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) has refused to accept that their products have toxins

Published: Thursday 16 January 2014

Reacting to Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE’s) report on heavy metals in cosmetics, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) has refused to accept that their products have toxins.
CSE’s Pollution Monitoring Lab (PML) found mercury in 44 per cent of the 32 fairness creams it tested. Use of mercury in cosmetics is prohibited in India. Both national and multinational companies failed to adhere to this rule.

The company is quoted in the media saying that “like all Unilever cosmetic products, all Pond’s products, including Pond’s White Beauty, are safe—with no added mercury and manufactured in accordance with good manufacturing practices and in line with Bureau of Indian Standards and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits on trace metals.” They continue to say that “All our products are approved by the FDA for manufacture and sale as safe cosmetics, and that they comply fully with guidelines in India and those of the US FDA in all aspects, including contaminants and heavy metals".

Rule 145D and 135A of Drugs and Cosmetics Act of India, 1940 prohibits manufacture and import respectively of cosmetics containing mercury, Chandra Bhushan, CSE deputy director general and head of PML points out.
CSE's lab found 1.36 ppm of mercury in HUL's Ponds White Beauty. This is higher than the limit of 1 ppm set in the US. Indian rules do not allow any mercury in cosmetics. Other HUL products like Fair and Lovely Anti Marks and Fair and Lovely Ayurvedic Care had 0.73 ppm and 0.10 ppm of the heavy metal. CSE tested a total of six HUL products; mercury was present in three of them.

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