The purpose of Health Canada’s guidance is to determine and communicate appropriate limits for heavy metal impurities in cosmetic products, particularly limits for lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury and antimony that are known to have significant toxicological properties.

Actually, these heavy metals, as well as chromium, are prohibited as intentional ingredients in cosmetic products sold in Canada. “Yet impurities exist due to the persistent nature of these substances and the fact that they are found in the natural environment,Health Canada points out.

The draft guidance provides that “heavy metal impurities in cosmetic products are unavoidable due to the ubiquitous nature of these elements, but should be removed wherever technically feasible” and that heavy metal concentrations in cosmetic products would be seen to be technically avoidable when they exceed the following limits:

Lead: 10 ppm
Arsenic: 3 ppm
Cadmium: 3 ppm
Mercury: 3 ppm
Antimony: 5 ppm

These levels are based on background levels found in cosmetic products sampled in Canada and are in line with acceptable levels of impurities in other jurisdictions,” Health Canada comments.