Minnesota has banned mercury from cosmetics, toiletries and fragrances. The state law, which took hold Tuesday, could result in fines of up to $700 for retailers who knowingly sell goods with mercury and up to $10,000 for manufacturers. It could also be used as leverage to get information on mercury use in the industry.
The toxic chemical, which in the past was used as a disinfectant and preservative, can accumulate in the body and injure the nervous system.
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Mercury is already more or less banned from cosmetics, except for small amounts in goods used near the eyes, which are sensitive to certain microorganisms that mercury fights. Occasionally, however, mercury is found in lightening skin creams. However, many in the beauty industry do not disclose its use of mercury, even at legal levels. And federal laws prohibit states from legislating labeling requirements. So the only avenue that’s open to states is to prohibit their sale. You could potentially have a product with a very high level and there’s no oversight. There’s no testing.