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Low levels of toxic elements in Dead Sea black mud and mud-derived cosmetic products


Natural muds used as or in cosmetics may expose consumers to toxic metals and elements via absorption through the skin, inhalation of the dried product, or ingestion (by children). Despite the extensive therapeutic and cosmetic use of the Dead Sea muds, there apparently has been no assessment of the levels of such toxic elements as Pb, As, or Cd in the mud and mud-based products. Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry analysis of eight toxic elements in samples collected from three black mud deposits (Lisan Marl, Pleistocene age) on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea in Jordan revealed no special enrichment of toxic elements in the mud. A similar analysis of 16 different commercial Dead Sea mud cosmetics, including packaged mud, likewise revealed no toxic elements at elevated levels of concern. From a toxic element standpoint, the Dead Sea black muds and derivative products appear to be safe for the consumer. Whatever the therapeutic benefits of the mud, our comparison of the elemental fingerprints of the consumer products with those of the field samples revealed one disturbing aspect: Dead Sea black mud should not be a significant component of such items as hand creams, body lotions, shampoo, and moisturizer.

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The authors wish to thank Beata Maciejewska for performing the ICP-MS analyses in Prof. Pingitore’s Geochemistry Laboratory at UTEP.

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Correspondence to Nicholas E. Pingitore Jr..

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Abdel-Fattah, A., Pingitore, N.E. Low levels of toxic elements in Dead Sea black mud and mud-derived cosmetic products. Environ Geochem Health 31, 487–492 (2009).

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  • Black mud
  • Cosmetics
  • Dead Sea
  • Facial masks
  • Toxic metals