Lead Lips

Photo Courtesy of Inmagine.com

Watch your mouth–or at least what you put on it. Recent studies by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) raise the concern about the safety of lead-based cosmetic products, specifically lipsticks.

A 2007 study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found 61 percent of 33 brand name lipsticks to contain lead levels up to 0.65 parts per million. In 2009 the FDA discovered lead content ranging from 0.09 to 3.06 parts per million in the same brand name lipsticks.
However, the FDA does not consider these findings a great concern. “The FDA is just guessing the level of lead content in cosmetics is okay,” Communications Director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, Stacy Malkan said. That’s because the FDA approves cosmetic lead levels up to 20 parts per million. The lead content of the tested lipsticks did not exceed this limit.
Health Communications Specialist for the Center for Disease Control, Jay Dempsey said that although exposure to higher levels of lead are more dangerous, any exposure to lead is unsafe. Among the 33 brand name lipsticks tested in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and FDA studies, Cover Girl, Revlon and L’Oreal contained the largest amount of lead. “There are certain brands of cosmetics that consistently had higher levels of lead than others. Companies can do a better job,” Malkan said.

Photo Courtesy of Inmagine.com

Children and lead exposure
Children are just as likely to be exposed to lead-based cosmetics as adults are. In a letter to Linda Katz, director of the Office of Cosmetics and Colors, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said, “Any mother of a young girl will tell you, it’s impossible to keep her daughter away from her lipstick.” Dempsey agrees that due to their developing brains and bodies, children are negatively affected by lead exposure. “Lead exposure in children may be linked to irritability, brain damage or stunted development, depending on the amount of lead they are exposed to,” Dempsey said. In fact, pregnant women are encouraged to avoid lead exposure due to the risk of passing lead content on to their unborn babies.
How the issue is being solved
There are laws put in place to help ensure that personal care items and cosmetics are safe to use. However, under the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938 cosmetic products are not subject to premarket approval by the FDA, with the exception of color additives. “People think it is not legal for companies to use harmful chemicals in their products. However, companies can put whatever they want in their products without any assessment,” Malkan said. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is currently working to gain more support for the reintroduction of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, which was designed to give the FDA authority to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful ingredients and that all ingredients are fully disclosed. Malkan said, “There is no way to know whether a product contains lead without sending it to a lab to be tested for $200. Lead is not listed on the label because companies are not required to list them. We need to get the FDA to set safety standards.”
For more information on lead content in cosmetics please visit the links below:

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