The concentration of mercury (Hg) was accurately determined in more than 228 drugs, cosmetics and household products manufactured in a variety of countries. Some drugs were found to contain up to 4424 ppb Hg, and some skin creams contained up to 2769 ppm Hg. Hg in skin creams was found to be almost 100% elemental Hg (Hg0), a volatile species of Hg. Hg0 can enter the human body through inhalation and skin absorption, potentially resulting in the serious consequence of mercury poisoning. The mercury can also volatilize, contaminating the surrounding air. Other people, for example, infants and children, who are close to or contacting the skin of the person using the cosmetics, can also absorb the mercury. Total mercury (THg) was determined by combustion/trap/CVAFS. Methyl mercury (MeHg) and inorganic mercury (Hg2+) were determined by the ethylation based method. The emission of Hg0 was determined by evaporation/trap/CVAFS. All analyses were performed in accordance with explicit quality assurance and quality control protocols and procedures.
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