Levels of Toxic Metals in Skin Lightening Agents Marketed in Nigeria
Background: Bleaching agents produced by registered companies in developed countries have regulated concentrations. But various local skin lightening agents produced in Africa, especially Nigeria have no identified active agent. This study determined the levels of potentially toxic heavy metals constituents of bleaching agents commonly used by Nigerians. Methods: Twelve different types of skin lightening creams (Extra white, Make me white, Extract, Perfect white, UV lightening, Pure skin, Body treat, Dodo up, Bronze tone, White express, Peau Claire and Otentika) available Nigerian markets were randomly collected based on their usage and availability. Three non- lightening creams served as the controls for this study. Levels of mercury, lead, cadmium, chromium and arsenic were determined in both lightening and non- lightening creams (controls) using atomic absorption spectrophotometer (AAS). Results: All lightening creams 12/12 (100%) contained significantly (p<0.05) higher levels of mercury compared with the control. 11/12 (91.7%) of the lightening creams contained significantly (p>0.05) higher levels of lead compared with the control. Levels of arsenic were significantly (p<0.05) higher in 11/12 (91.7%) of the lightening creams compared with control. Levels of cadmium increase significantly (p<0.05) in 4/12 (22.92%) of the lightening creams compared with the control. 4/12 (22.92%) of the lightening creams contained significantly (p<0.05) higher levels of chromium compared with control.
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