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Face creams contain huge mercury levels

By Hu Min and Zhan Jie (Shanghai Daily)

13:36, May 15, 2012

A number of whitening and freckle-eliminating cosmetics sold online contain excessive amounts of harmful substances such as mercury - some at alarming levels tens of thousands of times the national standard.

CCTV reported two cases of mercury poisoning and renal disease on Sunday. A pair of whitening and freckle-eliminating creams, with the brand names Guyun and Rongguifei, were reported to contain 39,453 and 64,117 milligrams of mercury per kilogram, respectively. The nation's national standard is below 1 milligram per kilogram.

The products involved are not sold in Shanghai shops but are available on e-business platforms like Taobao.com. After placing an order online, customers in Shanghai will receive products within a few days.

A set of two Rongguifei freckle-eliminating cosmetic products is priced at 40 yuan (US$6.34).

One e-shop owner identified as Bairuxuemaoyi who sold the Rongguifei products said the shop gets them directly from factories.

The brand is sold in two brick-and-mortar stores in Zhengzhou City of central China's Henan Province, and the company is also there, the owner said.

Guyun is produced by a cosmetics company in Guangzhou City of southern China's Guangdong Province.

A woman surnamed Wang in Shanxi suffered from turgid eyes and face after using Guyun freckle-eliminating lotion last October, and such turgidity spread to her body, CCTV reported.

She was diagnosed with mercury poisoning and renal disease. Her blood contained 36 nanograms of mercury per milliliter, more than 10 times normal.

A customer surnamed Sun in Beijing also suffered from symptoms of mercury poisoning after using whitening and freckle-eliminating cream of Rongguifei. She bought the cream from a local beauty parlor.

Doctors said mercury poisoning will lead to renal disease and harm the nervous system. Pregnant women can have their fetus affected, and renal disease from mercury poisoning can be fatal if not treated in time.

About 23 percent of the whitening and freckle-reducing cosmetic products sold in 10 cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, contain excessive amounts of harmful substances such as mercury, a survey by several environmental-protection organizations revealed last month.

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