Skin-Lightening Products Contain High Amounts of Mercury

According to a recent study in the American Academy of Dermatology Journal, some cosmetic skin-lightening products contain harmful levels of mercury. Six percent of those tested contained well above the FDA-approved limit of mercury, including one that was 45,000 times above FDA standards. Researchers purchased more than 500 skin-lightening products in stores or online in the U.S., China, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, and Sri Lanka, and used a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer to screen each one for mercury content exceeding 200 ppm. The FDA limit for trace amounts of mercury in cosmetic products is 1 ppm. “Clinicians should be cognizant of the frequent use of mercury in lightening creams, the availability of mercury-containing products to consumers in the U.S., the use of lightening products within U.S. communities, and the potential neurologic, renal, and dermatologic sequelae,” the researchers concluded. “Patients with suspected mercury exposure should undergo further evaluation, including blood and urine mercury levels and a complete blood cell count to assess for renal function.”