One State’s Ban On Mercury In Mascara

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Many of us grew up using mercury-based thermometers, but a growing number of U.S. states are banning temperature-taking tools that use the potentially dangerous metal. As of January 1, Minnesota will become the first state to outlaw mercury in a far less obvious place: cosmetics.

Unbeknownst to most beauty consumers, undisclosed amounts of mercury can be found in some mascara, eyeliners and skin-lightening creams. (There is, in fact, a federal law banning imported lightening creams and soaps that contain high levels of mercury.) Although the U.S. allows up to 65 parts per million of mercury in eye products (usually as an antimicrobial preservative), Minnesota will fine manufacturers for knowingly adding any amount of mercury into cosmetic products, toiletries and fragrances sold in the state.

Mercury can cause serious neurological problems, and those who pushed to pass this bill are confident that it can do damage in even the tiniest amounts. Although its presence in something like mascara doesn’t pose an immediate health risk, many toxicologists believe mercury accumulated in the body from long-term use could be dangerous.

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