Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Andrey

Eighteen of 51 sunscreen creams available in Hong Kong have been found to contain levels of estrogenic endocrine disruptors higher than recommended by the World Health Organization.

Vitargent (International) Biotechnology collected 51 products in 37 brands from beauty-product counters in Hong Kong and online shopping platforms and tested their safety.

It found that there were 20 types of estrogenic endocrine disruptors in nearly 90% of the chemical sunscreen samples, including Benzophenone-3, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor and octinoxate.

The tests found that 18 samples contained levels of estrogenic endocrine disruptors higher than WHO recommendations, Sing Tao Daily reported. If an adult put on more than 18.6 grams of one of these sunscreen creams daily, the amount would exceed WHO recommendations.

The tests also found four samples with high concentration of these harmful chemicals, which could cause cancer, infertility, precocious puberty, obesity and neurological disorders as they are readily absorbed through skin and transported to different parts of the body via the bloodstream, Sing Pao Daily reported.

The company analyzed the products for acute toxicity, chronic toxicity and banned ingredients, and the samples were categorized as “green fish”, “yellow fish” or “red fish”, which meant, respectively, “excellent”, “basic” and “sub-optimal” in safety.

The “red fish” indicated that the product was below standard in one or more criteria, and consumers were recommended to use extra caution when purchasing it.

For the sunscreen tests, 16 of the 51 samples were green fish, eight were yellow fish and 27 were red fish.

The test also showed that Asian brands were generally safer than European and US brands.