Non-cancer, cancer, and dermal sensitization risk assessment of heavy metals in cosmetics

Duck Soo Lim, Tae Hyun Roh, Min Kook Kim, Yong Chan Kwon, Seul Min Choi, Seung Jun Kwack, Kyu Bong Kim, Sungpil Yoon, Hyung Sik Kim, Byung Mu Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


The heavy metal content of cosmetics may be a cause for concern in that exposure to these metals is associated with adverse consequences. Thus, the aim of this study was to assess consequences attributed to exposure to heavy metals in cosmetics as determined by non-cancer, cancer, and sensitization risks methodologies. The quantification and exposure assessments of aluminum (Al), chromium (Cr), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), cobalt (Co), nickel (Ni), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), arsenic (As), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd), antimony (Sb), and titanium (Ti) were performed by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. The non-cancer risk assessment of Al, Cr3+, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Sb, and Ti in cosmetic samples resulted in a margin of safety (MOS) greater than 100 or a hazard index (HI) of less than 1. However, the probability of lifetime cancer risk (LCR) resulting from dermal exposure to heavy metals from cosmetics exceeded the acceptable risk levels (LCR > 10–5). An exposure-based sensitization quantitative risk assessment determined that the ratios of acceptable exposure level to consumers for Ni, Co, Cu, or Hg were above 1, suggesting an absence of skin-sensitizing potential. For an average daily user of lip cosmetics, the estimated intakes of heavy metals were within the acceptable daily intake (ADI). The percentage of heavy users for which metal intakes exceeded ADIs were 20.37% for Pb, 9.26% for Mn, 1.85% for Cr3+, and 1.85% for Cr6+, respectively. Data suggested that the heavy metals present in cosmetics do not appear to pose a serious risk to health. However, for heavy users of lip cosmetics, contamination with some heavy metals, such as Pb, Mn, and Cr needs to be minimized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-452
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 3 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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