Pearl Powder Often Just Shells

Pearl Powder Often Just Shells

POWDER made of crushed pearls has been a traditional Chinese skin care method for centuries, but in recent years many manufacturers have been using shells as their raw material, fooling buyers and making much higher profits, according to China Central Television.

Shells of pearl oysters used to be sold at hundreds of yuan per ton and processed for livestock feed or to produce clothes buttons. Now the shells are worth a lot more because they're in demand for processing into pearl powder, CCTV reported yesterday.

Manufacturers use sodium hydroxide, a corrosive toxic chemical, as bleach to turn the shells white before crushing them, the report said.

Both manufacturers and distributors in coastal Zhejiang Province, one of the country's major bases of pearl industry, knew the bleach was harmful to humans, but made the products anyway, it said.

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