Deborah Blum, who writes about chemicals and the environment for the New York Times recently wrote an article about the issue of toxic metals in lipstick and lipgloss.

Most lipsticks have at least a trace of lead in them, researchers have shown. A new study says that there may be as many as eight other metals in some lipsticks, including cadmium and aluminum. Experts are raising questions about what happens if these metals are swallowed, or absorbed on a daily basis.

Katharine Hammond, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California at Berkeley and the lead author of the new analysis says, “It matters because this is a chronic long-term issue, not a short-term exposure. We’re not saying that anyone needs to panic. We’re saying let’s not be complacent, that these are metals known to affect health.”
A report on lead contamination in lipsticks was first published in 2007, “A Poison Kiss,” by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. The Food and Drug Administration published an extensive follow-up in 2011, finding traces of lead in 400 lipsticks ( See  The cosmetics industry and the FDA say that the average lead level found, just above 1 parts per million, or p.p.m., poses no real or unusual health risk. Linda Loretz, chief toxicologist for the Personal Care Products Council, an industry association says, “Metals are ubiquitous. And this is a very small amount, too small to be a safety issue.”

However, lead tends to accumulate in the body, says Dr. Sean Palfrey, medical director of the lead poisoning prevention program at Boston University Medical Center. The F.D.A. sets a 0.1 p.p.m. safety standard for lead in candy intended for young children. “Not to mention that the C.D.C. acknowledged last year that no level of lead is really safe,” says Palfrey. Dr. Hammond recommends that consumers take a common-sense approach to cosmetics, starting with not letting young children play with lipstick. “Treat it like something dangerous, because if they eat it we are talking about a comparatively large level of metals going into a small body.” And also, be cautious about how often you reapply lipstick – due to the uncertainties, a few times a day is probably more sensible than many times a day…….       8/16/13


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