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Public reminded not to use a powder form paint with high lead content

    The Department of Health (DH) today (May 3) called on members of the public to stop using a powder form paint named ¡§HASHMI SURMA SPECIAL¡¨ following a notification of a nine-month-old girl with high blood lead level.

     Initial investigation revealed that the girl's family bought the product from a grocery store in Yuen Long and applied it to her eyes daily since birth for cosmetic purpose.

     The patient was taken by her parents to Tuen Mun Hospital for medical check up. Blood samples showed a higher than normal level of lead in the blood.

     A sample of the product was collected from the patient¡¦s home and sent to Government Laboratory for further analysis. The product was found to contain high concentrations of lead (84,000mg/kg), which exceeded the allowable limit of lead  (40mg/kg) as specified in National Standards for People¡¦s Republic of China. High blood lead level may result if the product is used for a prolonged period.

     The patient was put on treatment and her present condition is stable. Her parents and other home contacts do not have any symptoms at present.

     A DH spokesman said excessive lead exposure by humans would cause damage to the nervous system, red blood cell formation and the kidneys. Children are particularly vulnerable to the adverse health effects of lead.

     As a precautionary measure, DH was appealing to persons who had been using the product to stop using it to avoid lead poisoning.  Anyone feeling unwell are advised to seek medical advice as effective treatment is available for lead exposures. DH has set up a hotline 2575 1221 for answering media enquiries during office hours.

     It is believed that the product in question is not on sale in Hong Kong as the Customs and Excise Department could not find the product being put up for sale during their spot checks at local shops.

     The safety of cosmetics, including eye powder form paint, is controlled under the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance (CGSO).  Under the CGSO, it is an offence to supply, manufacture or import into Hong Kong consumer goods unless the goods comply with the general safety requirement for consumer goods or an approved standard applied to the goods.

     The maximum penalty for the offence is a fine of $100 000 and an imprisonment for one year on first conviction, and $500 000 and two years¡¦ imprisonment on subsequent conviction.

     For enquiries and complaints regarding unsafe consumer goods, consumers can write to the Consumer Protection and Prosecution Bureau, Customs and Excise Department on the 11th floor, North Point Government Offices, 333 Java Road, North Point or call the Customs hotline at 2545 6182.

Ends/Wednesday, May 3, 2006
Issued at HKT 21:00