Beware of toxic ingredients in cosmetics, personal care products, experts warn

A public health practitioner, Dr Chidinma Gab-Okafor at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) Yaba, Lagos has cautioned Nigerians on the inherent dangers in the usage of cosmetics without the knowledge of their ingredients.

Dr Gab-Okafor, in a public lecture entitled. ‘The Overview of the Impact of Chemical Exposures from Cosmetics and Personal Care Products’, at the Institute, said exposure to the untested and largely unregulated chemical content of cosmetics poses a health hazard.

She stated that more than three-quarters of the world population is exposed to the dangers of the chemical burden of cosmetics and personal care products, yet very minute, a portion of this population is aware of this significant crisis.

According to her, “cosmetics and personal care products bear a significant responsibility for the health crisis in non-communicable diseases.

“Virtually everybody takes for granted that our everyday cosmetics and personal care products are harmless and tested for safety. They constitute our single largest but generally unrecognized class of avoidable exposure to toxic ingredients and their health danger.

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“But the toxic chemicals in these exposures are linked to cancers, infertility, reproductive and developmental toxicity, inflammatory body conditions, anti-microbial resistance, autoimmune disorders, autism, learning disability and so much more.”

Gab-Okafor, a biochemist, who warned that children’s skin absorb 40 to 50 per cent much more than adults, stated that “most of these products carry invisible price tags with hidden costs to our health and to our lives.”

The experts said skin bleaching is particularly most significant in Nigeria, with Lagos being the most affected state, despite its numerous potentially life-threatening consequences.

She, however, listed consequences of skin bleaching to include poor wound healing, scarring, and more serious health risks such as hypertension, diabetes, infertility, leukaemia, skin cancer, immunosuppression and kidney and liver impairment and failure.

She urged mothers and all women to always read the labels on their baby products before purchasing them as well as the regulatory bodies to disclose the safety of ingredients used for producing cosmetics and personal care products.

Director General, NIMR, Professor Babatunde Salako said the lecture was to create awareness among the populace that many cosmetics and personal care products may be containing unsafe substances, that are dangerous to the body.

According to Professor Salako, “The other issue is to create awareness among researchers that there are public health issues they need to pay more attention to rather than running after highfalutin issues.”

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