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Mercury creams, a threat to the environment

All of us women love to take care of our skin, especially our face, with moisturizing, softening, refreshing creams and treatments… and we are willing to pay a high price sometimes to buy the best brands.

But are we just as good at reading labels and understanding which creams are really natural and which aren't? Not all beauty treatments that are categorized as "natural" actually are, and in many cases they are just decoy that attract consumers and push them to spend a little more. Reading labels well is the only means we have to avoid falling into the trap.

Everyone knows that if mercury is dispersed into the environment it can cause very serious damage, from damage to very young children and in some cases when they are still in the womb, from animals that in turn eat contaminated food, to groundwater.

Mercury can pollute the earth in depth, it can compromise the entire food chain with disastrous consequences. The mercury-polluted environment takes many years to return to normal and in the meantime the flora is irremediably compromised.

It has been seen that the soil in which mercury is found is highly unstable and loses all those nutrients that help plants grow and develop in the correct way; moreover, the damage from mercury can also affect very large territories because as the Ministry of Ecological Transition indicates, mercury, due to its particular physical and chemical characteristics, is distributed in the environment between air, water, sediments, soil and biota in various forms and can be transported for long distances in the atmosphere, even depositing very far from the place of emission. Furthermore, since it is not subject to degradation, it persists in the environment.

The devastating case of mercury poisoning from industrial sewage in Minamata, Japan, was the most serious case of mercury poisoning ever recorded. A multinational company spilled mercury-containing water into the sea for decades, and when the pollution level became intolerable, fish began to die, cats frothed and people began to suffer from pain and devastating effects.

It was understood that these serious cases of intoxication were due precisely to mercury and this demonstrated to all the risks of this heavy metal and the catastrophic effects on nature and on people.

Not to mention that mercury is also an incentive for racism because it is often found in lightening creams, those creams that are bought by black girls to lighten the skin and thus gain a better social position.

The mercury contained in the creams can contaminate the natural environment in a very serious way: it can pass into the soil, into animals and even contaminate those humans who do not use this type of cosmetics. In fact, mercury is one of the most common active ingredients in these creams and lightens the skin in two ways: it inhibits the formation of melanin by making the tyrosinase enzyme inactive and exfoliates the tanned and outermost layers of the skin through the production of hydrochloric acid.

In the early twentieth century, especially in the 1920s and 1930s, pharmacy and medicine textbooks recommended mercury, usually in the form of mercuric chloride, for the treatment of skin infections and dark spots while signaling their harmful effects. . Cosmetic manufacturers advertised mercury-containing creams as products to eliminate freckles or "skin bleach."

Lightening creams encourage racism, they are a remnant of colonialism that saw fair-skinned people in positions of power; only by going beyond old habits and stereotypes will we be able to prevent environmental damage that also becomes damage to the health of many girls.

Translated by Arianna Giannino


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  • L'Autore

    Valeria Fraquelli

    Sono una ragazza di trenta anni con Laurea triennale in Studi Internazionali e Laurea magistrale in Scienze del governo e dell'amministrazione.

    Ho fatto anche vari corsi post Laurea perchè non si finisce mai di imparare e io personalmente credo che rimanere sempre informati sia un dovere e un diritto per capire meglio come funziona il mondo che ci circonda.

    Adoro l'arte e la cultura e mi piace molto girare per mostre e musei. Mi piace anche viaggiare, il mondo è grande e tutto da scoprire con altre culture e altre tradizioni interessanti ed affascinanti.

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