Levels of mercury and hydroquinone in some skin-lightening creams and their potential risk to the health of consumers in Ghana.

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In this study, fifty (50) samples of Skin-lightening creams were analyzed for total mercury by Cold Vapour Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry using an automatic mercury analyzer and for total hydroquinone by High Performance Liquid Chromatography. The concentration of mercury in the creams ranged from below 0.001 to 0.549 µg/g and that of hydroquinone ranged from below 0.001 to 3.45 %. All the creams sampled for mercury had concentrations less than the US Food and Drug Administration’s acceptable limit of 1µg/g. The low concentrations of mercury detected in the cream samples analyzed therefore do not pose any potential risk to consumers. Eight percent (8%) of cream samples analyzed contained hydroquinone levels higher than the recommended WHO limit of two (2%). The use of such creams may lead to health hazards. Therefore, it is recommended that all skin-lightening creams should be checked for hydroquinone levels before marketing.
A Thesis submitted to the Department of Chemistry, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science