Dataset of mercury levels found in cosmetic skin lightening products from Michigan and North Carolina

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Ethnic and racial minority populations are at a greater risk of using skin lightening products due to influences from colorism. Elevated levels of mercury in cosmetic skin lightening products have been documented throughout the US despite being banned. Because levels in North Carolina and Southeast Michigan are unknown, skin lightening products were collected from ethnic retailers between February 2019 to February 2020 in neighborhoods with minority ethnic enclaves. Two samples of each product were collected and analyzed for total mercury. Forty-five (n=45) skin lightening products were collected. Most samples (n=38) contained mercury levels that were below the detection limit (0.02 ppm), but two samples containing levels of 5,950 and 2,400 ppm, were well above the US Food and Drug Administration permissible level of 1 ppm. The two samples were from Mexico and purchased from a North Carolina Latin American supermarket.



Mercury, Skin lightening, Cosmetics, Colorism