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Public reminded to watch out for unsafe beauty


The Department of Health (DH) today (April 20) called on members of the public who have bought a brand of beauty cream ?Whitening Sunblock Cream (Day Cream)? to stop using it and contact the DH hotline 2575 1221 during office hours for health advice.

The appeal followed a report of suspected mercury poisoning involving a 39-year-old woman who sought medical treatment from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on April 1 for skin rash and learning that the beauty cream she bought from the Mainland and used in the past three years contained mercury.

Chemical analysis of the two bottles of beauty cream obtained from the woman revealed that the mercury content of the products are 34 000 parts per million (ppm) and 38 000 ppm respectively.

The tolerable limit of mercury content stipulated in the ?Hygienic Standards for Cosmetics? of the National Standard of People?s Republic of China is 1 ppm.

A DH spokesman said symptoms of mercury poisoning include hand tremors, visual or hearing loss, memory deterioration, irritability and difficulty with sleeping.

Mercury can damage kidney resulting in oedema, particularly in the ankles and legs. It can also pass from the mother to the fetus resulting in impaired brain development.

Since mercury is gradually passed out of the body from urine and faeces, people who have not used the cream for six months or more are unlikely to have elevated mercury levels, the spokesman said.

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

Under the Consumer Goods Safety Ordinance, 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, April 20, 2005


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