Heavy metals

Safety Information

FDA periodically surveys cosmetics on the market to determine whether there are problems requiring agency action to protect public health. Over the years, FDA has surveyed a variety of off-the-shelf cosmetics for heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, mercury, and nickel, as they are present naturally in the earth. Based on these studies, FDA reported that the levels found were minimal and insufficient to pose a health risk.

Resources

Heavy metals

What Is It?

A heavy metal is a high atomic weight element that exhibits metallic properties at room temperature. Heavy metals are found naturally in soil, air and water with some being a result of human activity. High levels of certain heavy metals, such as mercury, lead, chromium, cadmium, and arsenic, can be harmful. However,  low levels of other heavy metals such as cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc, are essential nutrients required for body function and play important and beneficial roles in human metabolism.

Why Is It Used?

Heavy metals are not intentionally added ingredients in cosmetics or personal care products. However, certain ingredients mined from the earth, such as pigments and mica, may naturally contain trace levels of some heavy metals. 

The presence of trace levels of heavy metals is tightly regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and by the manufacturers to be well below levels that could represent any health risk. 

Scientific Facts

Because heavy metals are naturally occurring in groundwater, lakes, streams and rivers, they can contain trace levels of heavy metals. Plants also accumulate heavy metals through the uptake of water. It is estimated human exposure to heavy metals comes mostly through edible vegetables, which account for around 90% of the overall intake.