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Abstract Title: Simple Sample Preparation Method Development for Mercury Concentration Detection in Cosmetic Products
Presenter Name: Barna Heidel
Company/Institution: Esslingen University of Applied Sciences
Session: Progress in understanding Hg and human health impacts
Co-Authors: Barna Heidel,Adelina Vella,Siyavuya Madlanga

Abstract Information :

Mercury (Hg) is a ubiquitous and persistent toxic heavy metal which adversely affects health and the environment on a worldwide scale. Despite intense research and educational efforts regarding the chemical analysis and monitoring of Hg concentrations in the biosphere as well as in consumer items; our understanding and awareness of the overall levels and dynamics of environmental Hg still falls short of what is desired. Hence, the Esslingen University of Applied Sciences addresses this issue in the context of research projects and as an integral part of the curriculum. Recent studies have shown that skin-lightening products may contain excessive Hg concentrations. These products are predominantly marketed in countries with a poor education infrastructure on Hg-related health risks. The mercury content monitoring within these products is further hampered by the lack of access to adequate laboratory equipment as well as the high costs of sophisticated methods. This led this study to develop a simple mercury determination methodology comprising solid, liquid, and viscous samples. Overall, 43 products, from 19 countries, were tested. The Hg analysis was conducted using pyrolysis and Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS). High heterogeneity and constituent interference necessitated sample preparation prior to analysis. Dilution or dispersion using water was not suitable for all matrices, leading to poor homogenization. Although additional surfactants and ultrasonic treatment enhanced some sample accuracy, it was not overall satisfactory. A low-tech dry preparation method, using activated carbon, significantly improved sampling precision and reproducibility while proving to be superior on time and chemical consumption use. 88 % of the tested products resulted in Hg concentrations below the German threshold of 0.1 mg/kg, with the remaining 12 % significantly exceeding the international limited value of 1 mg/kg. These products pose serious threats to human health, especially in vulnerable groups, and ought to be internationally prohibited.

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