the Zero Mercury Task Force (ZMWG) has been investigating skin lightening products (SLPs) containing mercury for several years, primarily due to their health risks, illegality under many national laws, and prohibition by the Minamata Convention. on mercury from the manufacture and trade of mercury. added SLPs, which generally came into effect in 2021. Between 2018 and 2019, we conducted two separate investigations confirming the continued worldwide availability of illegal SLPs containing high concentrations of mercury. In our latest report, “Skin Lighteners Still Available Online Despite Mercury Discoveries,” we reveal that in 2022, the problem persists. There is an urgent need for legal and programmatic reforms to better protect consumers and their families from unsafe, illegal and counterfeit products.
The ZMWG 2020-2022 survey of SLPs offered by more than 40 online platforms, and accessible in 17 countries by our NGO partners, confirmed once again that high mercury SLPs are widely available on a range of popular e-commerce platforms around the world. Of the 271 SLPs tested, 129 had mercury levels above 1 ppm.
The Zero Mercury Task Force tested 271 skin lightening products from 17 sampling countries in a study conducted between 2017 and 2022. Of the 271 products tested, 129 exceeded the maximum allowable limit for mercury of 1 part per million (ppm). Online market monitoring and test buying operations in the Philippines revealed that illegal skin lighteners containing mercury are still widely available for sale in online and on-site markets.
Authors and analysts listed alphabetically by last name: Michael Bender, Mercury Policy Project; Charline Cheuvart, Rina Guadagnini and Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, European Environmental Bureau; David Lennett, Council of the Natural Resources Defense Council (contributing to the political portions of the report); Andreas Prevodnik, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.
With the support of NGOs from the following ZMWG member organizations and other NGOs, listed in alphabetical order, who provided information and data for this report: BAN Toxics, Philippines; Bio Vision Africa, Uganda; Casa Cem, Mexico; Center for Public Health and Environment (CEPHED), Nepal; Center for Environmental Justice and Development (CEJAD), Kenya; African Center for Environmental Health (CASE), Côte d’Ivoire; Earth, Thailand; Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO), Bangladesh; Society of Friends of the Environment, Bahrain; European Environmental Bureau (EEB), Belgium; groundWork (gW), South Africa; Integrated Health Outreach (IHO), Antigua and Barbuda; Mercury Policy Project (MPP), United States; NEXUS3 Foundation, Indonesia; Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADev), Nigeria; Toxics Link, India; and Toxisphera Environmental Health Association (TEHA), Brazil.
With government support from Dr. Custer Deocaris, Raymond Sucgang and Dave Gabriel Cadungog of the Philippine Institute of Nuclear Research, and Dr. Linroy Christian, Department of Analytical Services, Department of Agriculture, Antigua and Barbuda, who provided analysis and testing services
You can access ZMWG research using these links:
– Final Report – Skin Lighteners Still Online Despite Mercury Findings (bit.ly/3rxOXSe)
– Executive Summary – Skin lighteners still available online despite mercury findings (bit.ly/3JTZQEa)