International Health News

Mercury in skin-lightening products

LOMA LINDA, CALIFORNIA. Skin lightening or whitening is done globally through the use of cosmetic products which are readily available in stores and the internet. A recent study from Loma Linda University School of Medicine examined the mer cury content of 549 such products. It was found that 6% contained mercury above 1000 parts per million (ppm) and among those products containing this toxin, 45% had levels above 10,000 ppm. The FDA limits the amount of mercury in cosmetics to 1 ppm, yet for US samples tested, 3.3 % contained mercury in excess of 1000 ppm. Absorption through the skin can at the least increase the body mercury load, and at worst, cause frank mercury poisoning, as was reported in 2000.

Hamann CR, Boonchai W, Wen L et al. Spectrometric analysis of mercury content in 549 skin-lightening products: Is mercury toxicity a hidden global health hazard? J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;70:281-287
Weldon MM, Smolinski MS, Maroufi A et al. Mercury poisoning associated with a Mexican beauty cream. West J Med. 2000;173:15-18

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