Effective March 31, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) does not expect any trader to be having cosmetic products containing mercury and hydroquinone.
The agency says it will effect the law and arrest all persons found to be distributing the harmful products after the said date.
Speaking to Daily Monitor on the sidelines of the conference organised for stakeholders and cosmetic distributors at the Uganda Manufacturers Association in Kampala last week, Dr Ben Manyindo, the UNBS executive director, said there are a lot of prohibited substances circulating the market.
However, they are mainly concerned with cosmetics which have two products - Mercury and hydroquinone- which have been discovered to pose serious health effects to the persons using them.
Dr Manyindo said the ordinary person may not know whether the products are harmful or not, but they will certainly experience effects of the products in the long run.
“We agreed with cosmetics distributers that by the April 1, 2016, the cosmetic products which do not conform to the agreed standards should not be in the market,” he said.
He added: “Standards have always been in place but one challenge has been the implementation of these standards.”
He cautioned the public to be mindful of the products they consume. He called upon them to check the products to find out if they have been certified and are abiding by the agreed standards set by UNBS.
Local manufacturers have also expressed their dissatisfaction over competing with the manufacturers from abroad whose products do not conform to the set standards. The locally manufactured cosmetic products have been certified by UNBS and they include, among others, Samona and Movit products.
High level mercury exposure can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and the immune system. High levels of methylmercury in the bloodstream of unborn babies and young children may harm the developing nervous system, making the child less able to think and learn. Hydroquinone, on the other hand, causes cancer in the long run.