Assessment of level of heavy metals in cosmetics

Pogisego Dinake, Obakeng Motswetla, Tsotlhe Trinity Kereeditse, Rosemary Kelebemang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Toxic metals in cosmetic products can lead to serious health problems among consumers. Skin lightening cosmetics are popular among women who may be unaware of prevalence of toxic metals in such products. Purpose: This study assessed the content of toxic metals in cosmetic products imported into Botswana. There are currently no regulations in Botswana governing maximum contaminants limits for contaminants such as metal ions in cosmetic products. Research Design: Sample analysis was carried out using inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry after microwave-assisted acid sample digestion. Results: Total concentrations of metals were in the order Pb > Ni > Cr > As. The concentrations of metals analysed were in the range of 45.75–193.60; 2.99–9.50; 3.32–7.41 and 1.95–4.52 mg/kg for Pb, Ni, Cr and As respectively. The concentrations of Pb in all 14 samples exceeded the maximum impurity level of 10 mg/kg in cosmetics as per the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA). Concentrations of Ni, As and Cr were also
higher than the set US FDA limits in some cosmetic samples under study. A human health risk assessment was conducted using hazard quotient, average daily intake and health risk index. A hazard quotient of greater than one was determined for Pb (HQ ∼ 177.0–749.2) in all 14 cosmetic samples investigated indicating potential adverse effects to human health. Conclusion: Overall results of total concentration and health risk assessment indicate that cosmetic products imported into Botswana are harmful to consumers. Therefore, quality control measures should be enforced to ensure metal concentrations in facial cosmetic products do not exceed regulatory limits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalToxicology Research and Application
Publication statusPublished - Feb 13 2023


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