This study investigated the toxic chemical content of skin-whitening cosmetic products purchased at different types of stores and markets using both laboratory analysis and an Olympus InnovX Delta portable X-ray fluorescence analyzer (XRF). The XRF device is routinely used by companies and US regulatory agencies such as US Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission for metals detection in food, consumer products and other media. Standards for levels of concern included the regulatory limits for cosmetics in China: 1 ppm of mercury (Hg), 40 ppm of lead (Pb), 10 ppm of arsenic (As) and 0.2% ppm of methanol (excluding eye cosmetics containing organic mercury preservatives and hair dyes containing lead acetate). In addition, consideration was given to ASEAN regulations which apply to ten Southeast Asian countries and limit cosmetic products to less than 1 ppm mercury; 20 ppm lead, and 5 ppm arsenic. Note that the limit of quantification of the XRF device as used in the study is 12 ppm mercury, 12 ppm arsenic, and 12 ppm lead. As indicated in other studies of this type, these levels are not intended to correspond with levels known to cause health effects.
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