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J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2018;81(11):432-452. doi: 10.1080/15287394.2018.1451191. Epub 2018 Mar 28.

Non-cancer, cancer, and dermal sensitization risk assessment of heavy metals in cosmetics.

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a Division of Toxicology, College of Pharmacy , Sungkyunkwan University , Suwon , Gyeonggi-do , South Korea.
b Department of Biochemistry and Health Science, College of Natural Sciences , Changwon National University , Changwon , Gyeongnam , South Korea.
c College of Pharmacy , Dankook University , Cheonan , Chungnam , Republic of Korea.


The heavy metal content of cosmetics may be a cause for concern in that exposure to these metals is associated with adverse consequences. Thus, the aim of this study was to assess consequences attributed to exposure to heavy metals in cosmetics as determined by non-cancer, cancer, and sensitization risks methodologies. The quantification and exposure assessments of aluminum (Al), chromium (Cr), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), arsenic (As), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), antimony (Sb), and titanium (Ti) were performed by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. The non-cancer risk assessment of Al, Cr3+, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Sb, and Ti in cosmetic samples resulted in a margin of safety (MOS) greater than 100 or a hazard index (HI) of less than 1. However, the probability of lifetime cancer risk (LCR) resulting from dermal exposure to heavy metals from cosmetics exceeded the acceptable risk levels (LCR > 10-5). An exposure-based sensitization quantitative risk assessment determined that the ratios of acceptable exposure level to consumers for Ni, Co, Cu, or Hg were above 1, suggesting an absence of skin-sensitizing potential. For an average daily user of lip cosmetics, the estimated intakes of heavy metals were within the acceptable daily intake (ADI). The percentage of heavy users for which metal intakes exceeded ADIs were 20.37% for Pb, 9.26% for Mn, 1.85% for Cr3+, and 1.85% for Cr6+, respectively. Data suggested that the heavy metals present in cosmetics do not appear to pose a serious risk to health. However, for heavy users of lip cosmetics, contamination with some heavy metals, such as Pb, Mn, and Cr needs to be minimized.

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