Lurking Lead in Lipstick

What could we possibly have to deal with next? Is it not enough that we are working diligently to safely remove the lead left over from 35+ years ago? But now, it is reported that lipstick of all things is still being manufactured with lead and other toxic metals.

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According to a New York Times, blog: Most lipsticks contain at least a trace of lead, researchers have shown. But a new study finds a wide range of brands contain as many as eight other metals, from cadmium to aluminum. Now experts are raising questions about what happens if these metals are swallowed or otherwise absorbed on a daily basis.

Both the F.D.A. and the cosmetics industry insist that the average lead level found, just above 1 parts per million, or p.p.m., poses no real or unusual health risk. “Metals are ubiquitous,” said Linda Loretz, chief toxicologist for the Personal Care Products Council, an industry association. “And this is a very small amount, too small to be a safety issue.”

But lead tends to accumulate in the body, noted Dr. Sean Palfrey, medical director of the lead poisoning prevention program at Boston University Medical Center. The F.D.A. itself 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,” Dr. Palfrey said.

In the meantime, it is recommended that consumers take a common-sense approach to cosmetics. For starters, don’t let young children play with lipstick.

“Treat it like something dangerous, because if they eat it we are taking about a comparatively large level of metals going into a small body,” says Dr. Katharine Hammond, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California at Berkeley.

It seems lead is lurking everywhere we turn.

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