The product was banned across the EU in 1989, but a loophole allowed Killarney Enterprises to continue making it only for sale outside of Europe.
Green Party spokesperson Patricia McKenna said that the “toxic chemical in the soap [mercuric oxide] is bio-accumulative [the body cannot eliminate it once adsorbed] and carcinogenic, and it can cause fetal and brain damage, anemia and kidney failure.”
The Irish Medical Board has said that “soaps containing mercuric iodide are generally used for skin lightening, and for the treatment of skin ailments . . . the risks associated with their use outweigh any therapeutic benefit.
“The side effects can include gastrointestinal nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and can affect the central nervous system with symptoms manifesting as tremor, motor defects, mental deterioration, kidney and skin diseases.”
Company chairman Eddie McGrath refused to comment on the soap’s effects, would not say what product name had been used to market the soaps in certain African countries, but added that the products had never been sold in Ireland and production had ended in December 2002 because of lack of demand.