Minnesota Bans Mercury In Cosmetics

We weren’t really aware that there was a need for a law banning the use of mercury in cosmetics, but apparently Minnesota thinks there is.

Turns out that mercury sometimes finds its way into mascara and other products used around your eye, says the AP.

“Mercury does cause neurological damage to people even in tiny quantities,” said Sen. John Marty, the Democrat from Roseville who sponsored the ban. “Every source of mercury adds to it. We wanted to make sure it wasn’t here.”

Most makeup manufacturers have phased out the use of mercury, but it’s still added legally to some eye products as a preservative and germ-killer, said John Bailey, chief scientist with the Personal Care Products Council in Washington. That group doesn’t track mercury in beauty products and favors a national approach to regulating cosmetics, instead of laws that vary from state to state.

Federal law allows eye products to contain up to 65 parts per million of mercury. The exposure a person would get from a product used in small quantities around the eyes would not cause a problem, Bailey said.

“It’s added at very low levels, and for good reason,” he said.

Well, not in Minnesota anymore it isn’t. Retailers that “knowingly” sell cosmetics containing mercury in Minnesota will face fines of $700 and manufacturers who fail to disclose mercury could be on the hook for $10,000.

Mercury in mascara? Minn. law bans it
[Yahoo!] (Thanks, Dan!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. homerjay says:

    Pain is beauty.

  2. DallasDMD says:

    Mercury in vaccines is OK though, right?

  3. chersolly says:

    We can inject mercury/thimersol into a pregnant woman or an infant, but we can’t have it in our mascara?

  4. vaxman says:

    I tell my gf everyday that she looks hot without makeup… She still puts it on :(

  5. Parting says:

    Mercury in the makeup? Is it written in ingredients? Aaarghh!

  6. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    This year I’m skipping my flu shot because the preservative in the shot, Thimerosol, contains mercury.

  7. iamme99 says:

    Don’t forget the lead in lipstick :)

  8. jonathanl says:

    CONSUMPTIONJUNKIE – I am a big believer in flu shots, so I was curious about your comment. Thimerosal (NB it is AL not OL) is indeed 50% Mercury by weight! Wow I had no idea. It is still worth determining if the quantity used is dangerous. I did a little digging and here is what I found:

    General Info from the FDA on Thimerosal.

    What is thimerosal? (From FDA FAQ)
    Thimerosal is a preservative that has been used in some vaccines since the 1930’s, when it was first introduced by Eli Lilly Company. It is 49.6% mercury by weight and is metabolized or degraded into ethylmercury and thiosalicylate. At concentrations found in vaccines, it meets the requirements for a preservative as set forth by the United States Pharmacopeia; that is, it kills the specified challenge organisms and is able to prevent the growth of the challenge fungi. Prior to its introduction in the 1930’s, data were available in several animal species and humans providing evidence for its safety and effectiveness as a preservative. Since then, thimerosal has a long record of safe and effective use preventing bacterial and fungal contamination of vaccines, with no ill effects established other than minor local reactions at the site of injection.

    As a vaccine preservative, thimerosal is used in concentrations of 0.003% to 0.01%. A vaccine containing 0.01% thimerosal as a preservative contains 50 micrograms of thimerosal per 0.5 ml dose or approximately 25 micrograms of mercury per 0.5 mL dose. The use of mercury-containing preservatives in vaccines has declined markedly since 1999 (Table 1. Thimerosal Content of Vaccines Routinely Recommended for Children 6 Years of Age and Younger.

    FDA is continuing its efforts toward reducing or removing thimerosal from all existing vaccines. Much progress has been made to date. FDA has been actively working with manufacturers, particularly those that manufacture childhood vaccines, to reach the goal of eliminating thimerosal from vaccines, and has been collaborating with other PHS agencies to further evaluate the potential health effects of thimerosal. In this regard, all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age or younger and marketed in the U.S. contain no thimerosal or only trace amounts (1 microgram or less mercury per dose), with the exception of inactivated influenza vaccine, which was first recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices in 2004 for routine use in children 6 to 23 months of age.

    In short if you are pregnant or under 6 years old you should avoid Lead including vaccines with thimerosal. Otherwise avoid it if possible, but get a flu shot in any case.

  9. swalve says:

    Sweet jesus. THis is insane.

    “Thimerosal (NB it is AL not OL) is indeed 50% Mercury by weight!”

    That’s because mercury is very heavy compared to the other constituents. Sort of (completely) meaningless.

    Far as I can tell, nobody has proved there is anything wrong with this stuff. Except that panicky idiots hear the word “mercury” and decide that EVERYTHING that contains that element is bad and raise a stink.

  10. swalve says:

    I wonder how many people would die from infections if the stuff wasn’t in vaccines?

  11. CaptainConsumer says:

    Minnesota, first in war, first in peace, last in the NBA Northwest

  12. jwissick says:

    Causes brain damage eh? No wonder all the models and movie stars are dumb as fence posts… Its all the make up they use.

  13. ionerox says:


    Good thing we have better sports teams to watch than the T-Wolves. GO WILD!!!

  14. Monkey4Sale says:

    Oh No! Is there no drinking water in Minnesota now? They know there is mercury in drinking water right?

  15. Shred says:

    @vaxman: You’re probably driving your girlfriend crazy. Maybe she wears make up because she likes it. Maybe you telling her everyday that she looks hot without it makes her feel self-conscious and vain for enjoying make-up. If you tell her every day, and she still wears it, maybe you should take a hint and leave her alone.

  16. Zodiack says:

    In other news, it is illegal to go whaling in Nebraska.

  17. Japheaux says:

    I recently went to a seminar where the doctor went nuts about Teflon to cleaning products and how the chemicals will destroy the body. He spent a considerable amount of time on amalgam fillings and the mercury issue with raiding the temp in one’s mouth and/or chewing and how mercury is relased. One site: [www.amalgam.org] kind of matches what he said. I remember he showed us a You Tube video showing a special screen that showed the mercury vapor released when someone chewed. I Googled it an found it here: [www.youtube.com]

    To tell you the truth, I don’t know whom to believe in all of this crap. Everyone is a fear monger, but by the same token, will the ADA admit to a problem with a gazillion of these fillings out there? This would make the tobacco lawsuits look like a drop in the bucket.

    Next thing you know they’ll be taking away our rectal thermometers. Huh.

  18. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    What about the Mercury in those lightbulbs Al Gore is trying to convince us to buy?

  19. firefoxx66 says:

    While mercury in things like vaccines, used as a germicide, etc, might be debatable (as someone said, how many would die if we took it out before we find an alternative), I don’t see any reason for putting mercury in make up. It’s not like a vaccine, where you have to be super-careful about interactions between an alternative and the contents…. Just make-up companies being stubborn, in my opinion.

    Good for Minnesota!

  20. Her Grace says:

    @DallasDMD: Thimerasol is no longer in vaccines. Please. [scienceblogs.com.] Please.

  21. Her Grace says:

    @Her Grace: Sorry, I meant to say “MOST vaccines.” It is still used in some (flu shot, for example), but has been taken out of all the vaccines required on the childhood schedule. Go be an antivaccinationist crank elsewhere.

  22. Rusted says:

    @jonathanl: I was a foreign service brat. Vaccinations of all kinds. Needles, lotsa needles. Even for smallpox. Funny how I don’t even catch colds or flu.
    @MyCokesBiggerThanYours: Al got something right. The new CFLs have a decent light and I cut my electric bill waaaay back.

    @Japheaux: Actually if you have different mercury amalgam fillings from different doctors and times, you run into a problem with dissimilar metals and micro current. Replaced all my fillings with composite.