Group claims to find high lead levels in some lipsticks

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

American-made lipstick contains "surprisingly high levels of lead," according to new product test results released Friday by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

The lead tests were conducted by an independent laboratory over the month of September on red lipsticks bought in Minneapolis, Boston, Hartford, Conn. and San Francisco.

Its findings include:

Sixty-one percent of the 33 brand-name lipsticks tested contained detectable levels of lead, with levels ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm). None of these lipsticks listed lead as an ingredient.

One-third exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy.

Thirty-nine percent of the lipsticks tested had no detectable levels of lead.

Among the top brands testing positive for lead were:

* L'Oreal Colour Riche "True Red" -- 0.65 ppm

* L'Oreal Colour Riche "Classic Wine" -- 0.58 ppm

* Cover Girl Incredifull Lipcolor "Maximum Red" -- 0.56 ppm

* Dior Addict "Positive Red" -- 0.21 ppm

L'Oreal challenged any claims its products contain harmful ingredients, saying in an e-mail statement reported by the San Francisco Chronicle that its products have been thoroughly reviewed and tested by the company's toxicologists, clinicians, pharmacists and physicians and are in compliance with federal regulations.

The Food and Drug Administration, the Chronicle said, said it has known of concerns about lead in lipstick in the past. Many of the reports have been "urban legends," FDA spokeswoman Stephanie Kwisnek told the newspaper. She also told the Chronicle that the agency has no plans to act in response to this latest report.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics describes itself as a coalition of women's, public health, labor, environmental health and consumer-rights groups whose goal is "to protect the health of consumers and workers by requiring the health and beauty industry to phase out the use of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems, and replace them with safer alternatives."

Lead is a heavy metal that when ingested can cause adverse health effects in children such as behavioral problems and learning disabilities. Ingested in high amounts, it can cause seizures or death.

The full report on lipstick, including complete test results, is posted at www.SafeCosmetics.org. Tests were conducted the Bodycote Testing Group laboratory in Sante Fe Springs, Calif. It operates nearly 300 facilities around the world.

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