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14 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM

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Fake cosmetics

‘Cancer’ wrapped in lucrative packages

Mubtasim Fuad, Dhaka
‘Cancer’ wrapped in lucrative packages

Substandard and fake cosmetics and toiletries, wrapped in the labels of reputed local and international brands, are now being sold in markets in the capital, cashing on innocuous customers who fall for the cheap price tags without knowing the consequences. Owing to the adulterated cosmetic items, consumers suffer from skin and other diseases, including skin cancer.

Recent visits to the capital’s Gausia market (opposite to New Market), Old Dhaka's Chawkbazar, and also some famous shops at different shopping malls revealed that a lot of fake and substandard items, including perfumes, moisturisers, lotions, face wash, soaps, powders, shampoo, bleach, hair dyes, conditioners, oils, depilatories, and shaving creams, were being sold.

The government watchdog Directorate of the National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) has said this unscrupulous practice by some manufacturers and traders has become common now, unlike in the past.

Monjur Mohammad Shahriar, deputy director (Dhaka Divisional Office) of the DNCRP, told The Independent that drives were underway to seize fake and duplicate products from the markets. “The practice of selling foreign products  without the importer’s label is a new thing among some sellers. This was not the case before,” Shahriar said, adding that the practice was flourishing because of the carelessness of some traders.

“The traders say that they buy products without having knowledge of the importer’s label. Another problem is that now the importer’s label can also be fake and the traders are often unable to identify it,” he said. “When we tried to find out the address from the stickers originated, we found them to be fake as well. Some vested quarter is carrying out this malpractice. However, we are doing our work and hope to resolve this problem soon,” he added.

The DNCRP official said once traders and customers become aware of these fake cosmetics, the capital’s markets will be stocked by original products. On their part, some customers complained that many products were being sold without any seal or brand label of the manufacturers. Some of them use names and logos similar to popular national and international brands.

Some sellers claimed markets across the city were flooded with these fake products. These included super shops, shopping complexes and open markets at New Market, Gulistan, Sadarghat, Elephant Road, Mirpur, Rajdhani Market, Farmgate, Motijheel, Mohammadpur, Banani, and other places.

When asked about the menace, the DNCRP deputy director said, “We have complaint booths where customers can file their complaints. They can also do so online. Whenever customers file such cases, we can verify whether the products they bought are fake or substandard and then take action accordingly. Besides, we are conducting regular drives to seize these spurious products.”

Dr Rashed Md. Khan, head of the department of dermatology and venereology at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital, told The Independent that fake makeup products usually have high levels of steroids. “Any skin care product contains steroids because that brings out the glow in the skin. But a reputed brand develops the products through proper research and usually keeps the level of steroids in a proper balance. But that is not the case with fake and cheap makeup products,” he explained. “Fake products also often contain harmful chemicals that can ruin the skin. It can peel your lips, burn your face, and lead to swelling of your eyes. In the worst case, they can even cause skin cancer,” he warned.

A study by the Environmental and Social Development Organisation (ESDO) found that most skin-lightening creams available in Bangladeshi markets contain high concentrations of mercury (ranging from 711 to 16353 ppm) as against the recommended level of 1 ppm. Those study was conducted by collecting 32 samples of popular creams available in Bangladesh in 2017 and 2018.

ESDO had reported the results of its survey on September 12 this year. Focusing on the issue, an awareness and consultation workshop titled “Harmful effects of mercury added products on health and environment” was jointly organised by ESDO and the Department of Environment (DoE). The workshop stressed the urgency of taking preventive measures against such dangerous products. According to specialists, the presence of high levels of mercury in skin-lightening creams may cause rashes, discoloration, and scarring. They can reduce the skin’s resistance to bacterial or fungal infections and eventually result in skin cancer.

Once released into the environment, mercury can transform into toxic chemicals such as methyl mercury. These substances travel through the food chain and eventually get bio-accumulated. Methyl mercury is a neuro-toxicant—it can damage the developing brain as it crosses the placental and blood-brain barriers easily.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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