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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Study finds toxic mercury in skin-whitening creams

Study finds toxic mercury in skin-whitening creams

About 15 per cent of commercial skin-whitening creams and 30 per cent of creams from beauty shops that were tested in a new study contained illegal amounts of mercury, according to a report obtained by the Post.

The study, conducted at the University of Health Sciences in the capital, tested the mercury content of 677 skin-whitening creams in Cambodia.

“Since producers never label products having mercury or other toxins … the only way to ensure safety is to not use any skin whitener,” the report reads.

It stated that the “worst products” included Hua Thali, Guoyao, Qian Mei, and Yimei – “all seemingly Chinese-made” – Rojzy Jiali from Taiwan and Vietnam, Eucerin and Enjoy from the United States, and Maly from Thailand. Cambodia, the study found, appeared to produce the “toxic products” Mliz, #74, Britney Beautiful Care and FC.

Tom Murphy, senior scientist at UHS who ran the study, said yesterday that symptoms from using toxic creams could include rashes and discolouration.

“The people that make these creams, they will do it the cheapest way possible,” he said. “[Cambodia] has the regulations, but they don’t have the power to really police it.”

Health Minister Mam Bunheng told the Post that the worst products identified in the study had been banned and the ministry was monitoring products containing toxic chemicals.

Last month, a 21-year-old woman became the second person to die after using a Vietnamese skin-whitening product, which has been banned in Cambodia and Thailand.



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