U.S. to review claims that lipsticks contain lead

lip0stickWASHINGTON: The United States will review an advocacy group’s findings that lipstick sold under brand names including L’Oréal and Cover Girl contained potentially dangerous levels of lead.

Twenty of 33 brand-name lipsticks had detectable levels of lead in the tests, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. The Food and Drug Administration has collected lipstick samples for testing to follow up on the group’s results, although the agency has not found dangers previously, said an FDA spokeswoman, Stephanie Kwisnek.

The levels of lead found by the cosmetics group in the lipsticks – ranging from 0.03 part per million to 0.65 part per million – have the potential to increase risks of health hazards, said Joel Schwartz, a professor of environmental epidemiology at Harvard University, who was not involved in the study. Long-term exposure to lead can result in higher blood pressure, kidney damage and loss of mental function.

U.S. sales of lipstick totaled $2 billion in 2006, with 270 million individual containers sold, according to Kline & Co., a consulting and research firm in Little Falls, New Jersey. The products were made by companies including L’Oréal, based in Paris, and Procter & Gamble, of Cincinnati.

The organization that did the study, a coalition that includes environmental groups, women’s organizations and public health advocates, said the FDA should provide more oversight of cosmetics.

The FDA “will need to confirm the factual basis of these reports independently in order to determine what action, if any, may be needed to protect public health,” Kwisnek said.

The FDA has not set maximum levels for lead in lipsticks, and the trade group that represents manufacturers said the amounts found were not enough to pose a danger.

“These levels, considering the products and how they’re consumed, really don’t present a concern,” said John Bailey, executive vice president for science at the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association, a Washington group whose members include L’Oréal, which makes Maybelline, and P&G, which makes the Cover Girl brand.

One-third of the lipsticks tested exceeded the FDA’s 0.1 part per million limit for lead in candy, the group said in the study, released Thursday.

Products with more than 0.1 part per million of lead included L’Oréal’s Colour Riche True Red, Cover Girl’s Incredifull Lipcolor Maximum Red and Maybelline’s Moisture Extreme Cocoa Plum.

The campaign called on cosmetics companies to test their products for lead and to require suppliers to guarantee that raw materials are lead-free. ....

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