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National children’s retailer Claire’s has issued a recall of nine makeup products after reports surfaced they may contain cancer-causing asbestos fibers. The makeup contained traces of asbestos, according to a law firm which tested the products. 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. The laboratory that performed the tests indicated that it has found evidence that products manufactured with talc in China often contains asbestos as a contaminant.
Inhaling or ingesting any form of asbestos can lead to serious health conditions, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Claire’s first announced the recall on Twitter and later released a statement on its website. The company released an updated statement that later addressing refunds and stated that, according to its internal testing, it did not find any asbestos in its products. Currently, there is no national agency charged with testing kids' makeup for asbestos. While the Food & Drug Administration does occasionally test makeup for chemicals like lead and mercury, it does not do so regularly.
"We need sensible regulations on cosmetics," said Dev Gowda, Toxics Advocate for U.S. PIRG Education Fund. "Parents should not have uncertainty about whether or not asbestos is in kids' makeup, and consumers shouldn't wonder if lead is lurking in their cosmetics."
There has been no meaningful legislation regulating cosmetics since 1948. While the federal government could step in and require testing for makup, states can also pass legislation requiring companies to disclose harmful ingredients in makeup to consumers. New York already require companies to disclose ingredients in household cleaning products, and California requires companies who sell commercial beauty products to disclose ingredients.
In the meantime, parents can take the following precautions to protect kids from potential asbestos contamination in makeup:
- Restrict kids' access to makeup, particularly sparkly and powdery makup;
- Check ingredient labels on makeup for talc and do not allow kids to access talc-containing makeup;
- Keep kids from inhaling or ingesting makeup (don't let them chew on makeup or apply it near their noses).
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