Minnesota Bans Mercury in Mascara

On Jan. 1, 2008, Minnesota's state law banning mercury from mascara, eye liners and skin-lightening creams takes effect. Minnesota reportedly is the first state in the nation to ban intentionally added mercury in cosmetics, giving it a tougher standard than the federal government.

The law banning mercury in eye products is part of a larger ban of mercury in medical devices, thermostats, OTC drugs, hemorrhoid treatments, antiseptics and fragrances.

According to federal law, eye products can contain up to 65 parts per million of mercury.

After the law goes into effect, retailers selling cosmetics containing mercury in Minnesota could face fines of US$700, and manufacturers could face fines of US$10,000 for failure to disclose mercury on product labels.

According to Sen. John Marty (D-Roseville), who sponsored the bill, mercury can cause neurological damage to people in small quantities.

Very few products actually contain mercury; however, it is believed that some contain mercury as a preservative or anti-bacterial agent.  Although small amounts of mercury do not show immediate health effects, some fear long-term effects from its build-up.

Proponents of the law maintain this move is intended as a warning to cosmetic manufacturers to not use mercury, noting that enforcement will probably only happen when consumers complain.

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