January 11, 2023
By Krystal Spickler, program manager, Supply Chain, UL Solutions
On Dec. 23, 2022, Governor Hochul of New York state signed a bill banning use of mercury and several mercury-containing compounds in personal care products and cosmetic products.
The bill, introduced in the Senate as 8291A and the Assembly as 8630A, amends the Environmental Conservation Law section 37-0117 to include mercury alongside the existing 1,4-dioxane ban in cosmetic products and personal care products.
Under the prohibition, “mercury” includes elemental mercury Hg, mercuric iodide, mercury oxide, mercurous chloride, ethyl mercury, phenyl mercuric salts, ammoniated mercury, amide chloride of mercury, mercury sulfide or cinnabaris, or mercury iodide.
The existing definitions of cosmetic product and personal care product from section 37-0117 apply.
- “Cosmetic product” includes any article intended to be rubbed, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body or any part thereof for beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance, and intended for use as a component of any such article.
- "Personal care product" includes any product intended for cleaning or cleansing any part of the body, such as the skin and hair, and including but not limited to, hair shampoo, hair conditioner, soap, bath gels and other bath products.
According to a consumer update issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), mercury is more likely to be found in products marketed to lighten skin or as “anti-aging”, such as those claiming to remove blemishes, freckles, or age spots, or reduce wrinkles. Mercury content may not be disclosed on the product label in cases of illegally marketed product. FDA has prohibited use of mercury as a skin-bleaching agent in cosmetics since 1973 and mercury is not permitted in most other cosmetics at levels above 1 part per million.
The ban is effective June 1, 2023, after which time cosmetic or personal care products containing mercury shall not be sold or offered for sale in the state.
Recommended action items
- Review your company’s products being sold in New York to determine if they contain any of the prohibited chemicals
- Seek substitute ingredient(s) for any products containing chemicals covered under the ban
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