Press release issued by Department of Health: Public reminded to watch out for unsafe beauty cream

9 May 2005

The Department of Health (DH) today (May 9) called on members of the public who have bought two brands of beauty products ??澗冀?????????蝬汲??嘥?㗎??撋ěd??澗冀?????領??????隤??鈭???to stop using them and contact the DH hotline 2575 1221 during office hours for health advice.

The appeal followed a report of suspected mercury poisoning involving a 32-year-old woman who was found to have high level of mercury in her blood when she sought medical treatment at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in mid April for other disease.

The woman claimed that she had used the two beauty products, which she said were brought from Indonesia, during the past 10 months.

Chemical analysis of the products obtained from the woman by the Government Laboratory revealed that the mercury contents of them are 8900 parts per million (ppm) and 11 000 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 products in question for six months or more are unlikely to have elevated mercury levels, the spokesman said.

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

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.

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.

End/Monday, May 9, 2005

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