In Your Face: makeup contaminated with asbestos

Released by: Illinois PIRG Education Fund

The negative health effects of asbestos are well-known. Most people may associate asbestos contamination with the workplace or decades-old construction material, but alarmingly, recent media reports have found asbestos contamination in kids’ makeup from popular stores like Claire’s and Justice.
Illinois PIRG Education Fund (Illinois PIRG) decided to do its own asbestos testing at an accredited laboratory. Illinois PIRG tested over a dozen makeup products that contained talc from a variety of stores and brands, including children’s and teen’s products as well as adult’s products, and found 3 products containing asbestos currently sold by Claire's retail company.
Illinois PIRG calls on Claire’s to immediately recall the three makeup products and investigate how such high levels of asbestos were found in these products. Also, we call on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct regularly testing on makeup products for asbestos contamination, especially those that contain talc.

Negative Health Effects of Asbestos
Asbestos is not used commercially in makeup, but can be found as a contaminant in talc, a common ingredient in cosmetics. Sparkly, shimmery, and powdery makeup often contains talc as a major ingredient. Inhaling or ingesting any form of asbestos can lead to serious health conditions, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
While asbestos may be considered a trace contaminant, there is a known risk that these mineral fibers can lead to several pulmonary diseases and lung cancers, such as malignant mesothelioma, when they are inhaled. Research has shown that asbestos fibers can disrupt DNA and lead to tissue damage. There are currently no effective means to predict which individuals exposed to asbestos will develop disease. Repeated topical exposure to asbestos may result in increased skin cancer risk over time. Short term increased risk of developing rashes would also be expected with use of asbestos containing products.
Asbestos Regulation
While the FDA considers it “unacceptable for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos”, there is currently no national agency charged with testing kids' makeup for asbestos. While the FDA does occasionally test makeup for chemicals like lead and mercury, it does not do so regularly. Congress should take action to ensure that there's no asbestos contamination in cosmetics, and FDA should conduct regular tests on cosmetics for asbestos.


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