ISLAMABAD - Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul on Wednesday said that man­ufactures of skin whitening products have been asked to remove mercury from the products and take measures to discourage misleading adver­tisements.

Addressing a news confer­ence, Zartaj Gul said the gov­ernment had promised a year before about the legislation regarding use of mercury and now the ministry was bringing its action plan on it. 

She urged the media to dis­courage to stop misleading ad­vertisements regarding skin whitening products. 

The Minister said the gov­ernment was committed to encourage and promote in­dustries making mercury free products in the country while Mina Mata Convention was a big achievement and was meant to control the exces­sive use of mercury in health sector and various other in­dustries, especially makers of whitening creams.

“We met CEOs of many man­ufacturers of skin whitening products and asked them to re­move mercury from the prod­ucts,” she said. She said the federal cabinet had approved Mina Mata Convention. She fur­ther said that mercury whiten­ing creams were dangerous for skin. 

Zartaj Gul said a sur­vey conducted by the min­istry revealed that 57 out of 59 creams had mercury lev­el above 1pbm which was the matter of concern, while a number of soaps also con­tained mercury. “Skin whiten­ing products manufacturers have been asked to reduce the mercury level in their prod­ucts to 1pbm by the end of 2020.” 

She said that Fair and Love­ly following our advice has changed the product’s name as Fair and Glow. She said soon a meeting with manufac­turers would be held and the matter would be discussed at length. She said, ‘Global Envi­ronment Facility (GEF)’ was also funding in this project to help reach target to eliminate mercury. 

She elaborated that Pakistan was also internationally rec­ognized as a ‘Green Champi­on’ because of its ongoing en­vironmental friendly projects. “We are not going to crack­down or ban any industry but would punish if they would not implement the instruction within the given timeframe,” she added. 

She said in 2013 Pakistan be­came signatory of Mina Mata Convention and our achieve­ment was to pass appropriate legislation to implement the convention.

Deputy Director Chemi­cal Mina Mata Convention Dr Zaigham said there were indus­tries in Pakistan which were making mercury free products including LED lights, thermom­eter, blood pressure apparatus and dental equipment.

He said 123 countries were involved in the mercury free campaign and our goal was to bring Pakistan at the top of mercury free countries.