Lead, Manganese and Mercury: Metals in Personal Care Products

April 1, 2009 | Contact Author | By: Jurij J. Hostynek and Howard I. Maibach, MD, University of California School of Medicine
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Keywords: lead | manganese | mercury | metal

Abstract: This article is the fourth in a series reviewing the metals present in personal care products. Earlier installments appeared in January 1998, Toxic Potential from Metals Absorbed through the Skin (pages 33-42); March 1999, Metals in Personal-Care Products, (pages 47-56); and August 2000, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper and Iron: Metals in Personal-Care Products, (pages 52-65).

Lead (Pb)
Lead is a toxic, non-essential element of mammalian nutrition. It is a suspected carcinogen and is noted for its genotoxicity, neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity and developmental toxicity in both males and females. It is a cumulative poison due to the absence of an effective mechanism of elimination from the organism. The overriding health concern is the effect lead exposure has on the cognitive and neurobehavioral development of infants and young children, as well as fetal exposure to maternal lead during gestation. Its compounds, natrually found throughout the environment, present constant exposure to humans, leading to accumulation of potentially toxic levels by absorption through all routes of entry.