Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health
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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 95-100

A case study of selected heavy metals (lead, cadmium, and nickel) in skin-lightening creams and dermal health risk in Malaysia

Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia

Correspondence Address:
Sharifah Norkhadijah Syed Ismail
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Serdang, Selangor
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ATMPH.ATMPH_82_17

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Background: This study highlights the presence of heavy metals as metal impurities in the skin-lightening product. The presence of metal impurities leads to accumulation in human vital organs and produce harmful effects to humans even at low concentration. Aim and Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the concentration of heavy metals impurities (Pb, Cd, and Ni) in skin-lightening products available in Malaysian market and to assess the risks of application of products that contain heavy metals. Methods: This study sampled 33 skin-lightening products (facial moisturizing cream). Samples were tested for heavy metals using Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES). Health risk was assessed using Margin of Safety (MoS) and Hazard Quotient (HQ). Results: In general, all heavy metals were slightly higher in non-local samples. For example, the mean ± standard deviation (SD) of Ni in non-local samples was 0.207±0.15 mg/kg, slightly higher than local samples (0.180±0.17 mg/kg). Cd was determined as 0.018±0.02 mg/kg in non-local samples and 0.014±0.01 mg/kg in local samples. Pb was determined as 0.107±0.08 mg/kg in non-local samples and 0.049±0.03 mg/kg in local samples. All heavy metals were not exceeding the guideline referred. The MoS value of metal presence in the samples was higher than 100 and thus indicates that the presence of metal impurities was within an acceptable risk. The HQ for Ni and Cd were less than 1, whereas HQ for Pb was greater than 1, which indicates potential for adverse health effects. Conclusion: Heavy metals impurities detected in the samples were within the safe limit and at an acceptable risk to human except for Pb. Care should be taken as heavy metals are able to accumulate in human body and the health effects remain as concern.

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