Evaluation of the concentration of toxic metals in cosmetic products in Nigeria
It has been shown that heavy metals toxicity to humans is as a result of long term or high level exposure to pollutants common in the environment including the air, water, food and numerous consumer products such as the cosmetics and toiletries. In this study, we assessed the levels of toxic metals in different cosmetic products sold at local shops in Lagos, Nigeria. The cosmetic items included thirty creams and twenty lipsticks and lip glosses. These items were purchased from various shops at different locations in Lagos. The cosmetics were analyzed for heavy metals (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and nickel) after digestion with concentrated acids HNO3: H2SO4: HClO4 in ratio 2:2:1. The concentrations of the selected toxic heavy metals were determined in duplicate using a Buck 205 flame atomic absorption spectrophotometer. All the samples analyzed contained a detectable amount of all the metals of interest. The concentration of the heavy metals in the samples ranged from 0.006 to 0.207 ppm. It is obvious from the present study that the use of some cosmetic products exposes users to low concentrations of toxic heavy metals which could constitute potential health risk to users since it has been known that heavy metals can accumulate in the biological system over time and are known to induce skin problems or diseases such as cancer. Further research to better understand the sources of heavy metals in cosmetic products is recommended.
Key words: Toxic heavy metals, cosmetics, atomic absorption spectrophotometer, environment.