Mercury has been popularly used by manufacturers in certain creams to lighten the tone of the skin, putting the user as well as other people around at the risk of severe health problems. Researchers are now saying that they can more easily and speedily identify these creams and intervene for better safety.
Gordon Vrdoljak, of the California Department of Public Health, said, “In the US, the limit on mercury in products is 1 part per million”.
“In some of these creams, we’ve been findings levels as high as 210, 000 parts per million- really substantial amounts of mercury. If people are using the product quite regularly, their hands will exude it, it will get in their food, on their counter-tops, on the sheets their kids sleep on”.
However, identifying the toxic products has become a slag process. Vrdoljak then turned to an instrument that makes use of a technique referred to as total reflection x-ray fluorescence.
He found that the machine can screen product samples for mercury content far more efficiently and accurately as it is well-established, but a time-consuming counterpart. This means that the team can identify the sources of mercury poisoning and help those who are affected way faster than before.
Vrdoljak said that testing a single product with the old technique could take several days. He added, “Using the new instrument, I can run through 20 or 30 samples in a day quite easily. By identifying those products that contain mercury, we can direct people to remove them and clean up their households”.
Although the metal has been known to lighten skin tone, acne as well as dark spots, using it can lead to several problems such as lower cognitive functioning, headaches, kidney damage, fatigue, depression, hand tremors and other symptoms.
The US and many other countries, as a result, have set low limits on or have banned mercury in consumer products. The researchers said that the demand is high among certain populations for skin-lightening products. This work had triggered the recall of two products earlier, but they find that cosmetics are homemade and come in unmarked containers.
The research was presented at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco.
Article source: Zeenews
Image source: Getty
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