Prompted by updated study results showing that many lipsticks contain lead levels above acceptable limits, the advocacy group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) issued a letter this week to the FDA urging the agency to alter its statements about lead safety in lipsticks.
Lead is not an ingredient used in lipstick, instead it is a contaminant that can be found in the natural ingredients used to make lipstick, according to the Personal Care Products Council, a trade group that represents many cosmetic companies.
In the original 2007 FDA study, 400 lipsticks were tested and found to have lead amounts of less than 5 parts per million, the maximum set by California law. However, the results were updated in December 2011, showing that some brands had as much as 7.19 parts per million (ppm). By comparison, the FDA recommends that candy contain no more than 0.1 ppm, but 100 ppm in children’s products like toys.
In its plea to the FDA, CSC also brought to light a January 2012 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that stated there is no safe level of lead exposure for children and that pregnant women should avoid lead exposure. Lead poisoning, which typically accumulates over time, can cause problems with physical and mental development in children, according to the Mayo Clinic. In high amounts, it can be fatal.
The concern, CSC says, is that many women of childbearing age use lipsticks and many children have been known to play with lipstick, as well.
“The new FDA analysis indicates that the lead in lipstick problem is more widespread than previously reported,” said the CSC in its letter. On its website the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors says, “Although we do not believe that the lead content found in our recent lipstick analyses poses a safety concern, we are evaluating whether there may be a need to recommend an upper limit for lead in lipstick in order to further protect the health and welfare of consumers.”
The CSC responded with, “We urge FDA to take this important step to protect consumers from unnecessary lead exposures from lipstick.”
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