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A Systematic Review of Global Legal Regulations on the Permissible Level of Heavy Metals in Cosmetics with Particular Emphasis on Skin Lightening Products

20 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2018

See all articles by Irmina Michalek

Irmina Michalek

University of Tampere - Faculty of Social Sciences

Emma K.T. Benn

Mount Sinai Health System - Icahn School of Medicine

Florentino Luciano Caetano dos Santos

University of Tampere - Faculty of Social Sciences

Sharon Gordon

Mount Sinai Health System - Icahn School of Medicine

Chi Wen

Mount Sinai Health System - Icahn School of Medicine

Bian Liu

Mount Sinai Health System - Icahn School of Medicine

More...

Abstract

Background There is an urgent need to address the safety problems caused by the use of skin lightening cosmetics. Evidence suggests that some of them may contain heavy metals. We conducted a systematic review of global legal regulations regarding the permissible level of mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium in cosmetic products, with particular emphasis on skin lightening preparations.

Methods The systematic search of documents was a two-stage process. First, official websites of 17 regional organizations and subsequently regulations for countries with a population over 100 million were searched.

Findings Fifteen legislative acts, encompassing more than 67·2% of the global population were reviewed. Regulations were identified for 44/59 high income countries, 16/55 upper middle income countries, 9/45 lower income countries, 0/34 low income countries. The median adult literacy rate was 91·4% and 64·2% in countries with and without regulations, respectively. The use of mercury, lead, arsenic, and cadmium has been banned in 67, 67, 65, and 65 out of 69 countries, respectively.

Interpretation While regulations exist in most of the high income countries, in low income countries there is a lack of similar standards. In most countries for which these legal regulations have been identified, restrictions on the permissible level of heavy metals are strict. There is a need for enforcement of existing rules, and rigorous assessment of the effectiveness of these regulations.

Funding: This research was partially supported by National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (grant P30ES023515).

Declaration of Interest: None declared.

Keywords: Skin Lightening Preparations; Skin Bleaching; Skin Whitening; Ethnic Groups; Vulnerable Populations; Disadvantaged; Sensitive Population Groups

Suggested Citation

Michalek, Irmina and Benn, Emma K.T. and Luciano Caetano dos Santos, Florentino and Gordon, Sharon and Wen, Chi and Liu, Bian, A Systematic Review of Global Legal Regulations on the Permissible Level of Heavy Metals in Cosmetics with Particular Emphasis on Skin Lightening Products (August 29, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3244904

Irmina Michalek (Contact Author)

University of Tampere - Faculty of Social Sciences ( email )

Tampere, FIN-33101
Finland

Emma K.T. Benn

Mount Sinai Health System - Icahn School of Medicine

One Gustave L. Levy Place
New York, NY 10029-6574
United States

Florentino Luciano Caetano dos Santos

University of Tampere - Faculty of Social Sciences

Tampere, FIN-33101
Finland

Sharon Gordon

Mount Sinai Health System - Icahn School of Medicine

One Gustave L. Levy Place
New York, NY 10029-6574
United States

Chi Wen

Mount Sinai Health System - Icahn School of Medicine

One Gustave L. Levy Place
New York, NY 10029-6574
United States

Bian Liu

Mount Sinai Health System - Icahn School of Medicine

One Gustave L. Levy Place
New York, NY 10029-6574
United States

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