Topic-1 : Skin Lightening Creams and Kidney Damage (Kidney International Study – Kerala)

GS-2 Mains : Health 

Revision Notes 

Question : Discuss the findings of the recent Kidney International study conducted in Kerala regarding the link between fairness creams and nephrotic syndrome. What were the key observations and implications of the study?


Basic :  Keratin is a protein found in human hair, nails, skin, and other cells. It is a major component that helps in strengthening, adding shine, and keeping hair healthy. Keratin helps protect hair from external and internal damage, and provides thickness and strength to them. It contributes to making them more beautiful, healthy, and attractive.


  • Recent reports linked keratin-based hair straightening products to kidney injury.
  • A new study from Kerala links fairness creams to nephrotic syndrome.

Mercury in Fairness Creams

  • The study published in Kidney International found high mercury levels in patients with nephrotic syndrome.
  • Fairness creams used by the patients contained mercury exceeding permissible limits by 10,000 times.
  • Mercury is a well-known toxin that can damage the kidneys.

Membranous Nephropathy (MN)

  • An autoimmune disease causing nephrotic syndrome (excess protein in urine).
  • PLA2R is the target antigen in 70-80% of MN cases.
  • Recent cases of MN were PLA2R negative, leading researchers to investigate other causes.
  • NELL-1, another antigen, has been linked to a rare form of MN.

Fairness Creams and Nephrotic Syndrome

  • Patients admitted to using fairness creams before experiencing symptoms.
  • Mercury levels in blood/urine samples dropped after stopping cream use.
  • Patients responded well to standard kidney disease treatment.

Global Issue of Fair Skin Obsession

  • Fair skin obsession with fairness creams is prevalent in Asia and Africa.
  • Serious health risks from toxic cosmetics are not yet a global public health concern.

Impact of Mercury in Cosmetics

  • Inorganic mercury in creams lightens skin by inhibiting melanin formation.
  • Higher mercury levels lead to a stronger whitening effect.
  • Chronic mercury poisoning from cosmetics is often misdiagnosed.
  • People are reluctant to stop using fairness creams despite health risks.
  • Mercury can be absorbed through the skin and affect all tissues.
  • WHO lists various health risks from mercury in cosmetics.

Regulations and Controls

  • The Minamata Convention on Mercury regulates mercury use globally.
  • India is a signatory to this convention.


  • This study suggests a link between fairness creams and nephrotic syndrome.
  • Larger studies are needed to understand the full extent of the problem.
  • Stricter regulations are required to ban mercury in all cosmetics



Topic-2 : Green Credit Programme for India’s Forests

GS-3 Mains : Environment Conservation 

Revision Notes 

Question : Critically analyze the Green Credit Programme introduced by the Environment Ministry of India. Discuss its objectives, challenges, and potential impact on environmental sustainability.

Basic : The Green Credit Program initiated by the Ministry of Environment is a voluntary program aimed at incentivizing environmentally positive actions. It promotes activities such as tree plantation, water management, sustainable agriculture, waste management, air pollution reduction, and mangrove conservation and restoration. Under this program, participants earn Green Credits for undertaking such actions, which are tradable on a domestic market platform developed by the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE). The program aims to encourage environmental stewardship and holistic environmental improvement through market-based incentives.


  • Announced by the Environment Ministry.
  • Aims to incentivize environmental and ecological restoration through a market-based mechanism.

About the Programme

  • Voluntary program promoting environmentally positive actions.
  • Green Credits are units of incentive for such actions.
  • Part of the ‘LiFE’ (Lifestyle for Environment) campaign.

Activities Covered

  • Eight key areas for environmental sustainability:
    • Tree Plantation
    • Water Management
    • Sustainable Agriculture
    • Waste Management
    • Air Pollution Reduction
    • Mangrove Conservation and Restoration

How it Works

  • Administered by Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE).
  • ICFRE sets guidelines, benchmarks, and verifies project proposals.
  • Participants register with ICFRE and submit proposals for generating/buying Green Credits.
  • Green Credits are tradable on a domestic market platform developed by ICFRE.
  • A Green Credit Registry tracks supply and demand.


  • Verification and validation of green actions can be complex and time-consuming.
  • Risk of “greenwashing” – falsely claiming environmental benefits.
  • Limited awareness and participation.
  • Lack of financial resources and incentives for participants.
  • Concerns about who manages pollution reduction and biodiversity conservation.
  • Potential costs for participating entities.


  • Focus on methodologies, demand, and continuous evaluation for a sustainable market.
  • Careful evaluation before implementation, especially regarding afforestation.
  • Consider unresolved issues with forest ownership, biodiversity, and global criticism of carbon credit programs.


  • A visionary approach to incentivize environmental stewardship.
  • Offers incentives for diverse beneficial actions towards holistic environmental improvement.


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