A large quantity of highly toxic substances, linked to cancer, have been seized at Gatwick Airport.
West Sussex County Council said Trading Standards along with the UK Border Force found around 280 skin lightening products on board a flight from Africa.
The cosmetic products are believed to contain hydroquinone, which is banned throughout Europe.
A council spokesman said some of the products were labelled as hydroquinone free but are suspected to contain the substance.
They are expected to have a retail value between £5 and £20, the spokesman added.
A passenger is currently under investigation following the flight on August 22.
David Barling, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for residents’ Services, said: “Our excellent Trading Standards team work very hard in conjunction with our partner agencies to protect our borders and consumers and prevent extremely dangerous products from entering the UK.
“These products we believe contain hydroquinone, which is a very harmful substance that could have caused significant damage to innocent consumers.”
Peter Aston, Trading Standards Team Manager, said: “Hydroquinone is a bleaching agent which can remove the top layer of skin, running the risk of infection and increasing the risk of sunburn.
“It can also increase the risk of skin cancer or can cause fatal liver and kidney damage.
“We will continue to monitor this dangerous and unscrupulous trade to protect West Sussex residents.”
Anyone with information about skin lightening creams containing hydroquinone can contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 or can report details online at www.westsussex.gov.uk/tsreport.
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