Quality call as toxin found in cosmetics

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 October, 2007, 12:00am

Traces of a toxic substance have been found in face creams and lotions, prompting a legislator to urge the city to set up its own safety standards for cosmetics.

The Consumer Council found residual acrylamide monomer in three face creams and four lotions out of 30 samples. The amounts ranged from 0.07mg/kg to 1.6mg/kg.

Acrylamide may be neurotoxic in high dosage. But the council advised consumers against undue worry.

According to the Department of Health, normal use of the tested face-care products found to contain traces of acrylamide was unlikely to pose a significant health risk.

Residual acrylamide monomer was a likely impurity in most polyacrylamide preparations, the Consumer Council said. Polyacrylamide is not toxic and is commonly added to cosmetic preparations to act as a stabiliser and foam builder.

Six of the seven samples, detected with 0.25mg/kg to 1.6mg/kg of acrylamide, would be deemed in excess of the limit according to standards adopted on the mainland and in the European Union, where the maximum limit is set at 0.1mg/kg for cosmetics left on the face.

In contrast, the US Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel suggested that polyacrylamide was safe as a cosmetic ingredient as long as the residual content was below 5mg/kg, thus all seven samples would be considered to be in compliance with the upper limit.

Medical sector legislator Kwok Ka-ki said the city should have its own standards to follow.

Among the seven samples found with acrylamide, five were labelled with the chemical and two were not.

The council said it had passed on the case to the Customs and Excise Department.

A spokeswoman for the department said action would be taken if unsafe cosmetics were found on the market. It would then consult the health department for advice and refer to international safety standards.