Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has maintained its ban on more than 50 cosmetic products that contain mercury and hydroquinone.
Ms Barbara Kamusiime, the senior public relations officer at UNBS said that Hydroquinone and Mercury which are common active ingredients found in a number of skin care products designed specifically to lighten or bleach the skin, expose the body to cancer and cause rashes, skin discoloration and blotching.
She added that studies have shown that long term use of mercury can result to damage of kidneys, as well as digestive and nervous systems and other vital organs.
“Research has established that hydroquinone is a carcinogenic or a cancer causing chemical (yamaguchi et al, 1989). Hydroquinone has also been linked to the medical condition known as ochronosis in which the skin becomes dark and thick,” Ms Kamusiime said.
UNBS has dismissed the reports that cosmetics containing hydroquinone on the market have been cleared by them, saying that such products have been smuggled into the country through various porous borders.
In 2016, UNBS banned the manufacture, importation and sale of cosmetics that contain mercury and hydroquinone after some cosmetics and were found to contain mercury exceeding the level permitted by the UNBS standards, while others contained potent ingredients like hydroquinone.
Some of the banned products included, Rico Soap, Mekako Soap, Top Claire plus Lotion, Beauty Lotion, Claire Cream, Fair & White Lightening Cream, Lady Claire Soap, among others.
According to Uganda standard (US EAS 377-1:2013, there shall not be any hydroquinone or mercury in cosmetics to be used for skin applications. The standard however states that 2% hydroquinone is permissible for cosmetics to be used on hair.
Ms Kamusiime said there is surveillance team that inspects different traders and sellers to ensure such products are taken off market.