How nice to know that John Hurson, lobbyist for the Personal Care Products Council, was thinking about me the other night from somewhere in the DC area (a bar perhaps?). At 7:15 p.m. on Jan. 31, he tweeted, “@safecosmetics Does Stacy Malkan know that FDA says your attack on lead in lipstick is crap?”
No I hadn’t heard that one. Here’s what I do know: lipsticks still contain unacceptable levels of lead and cosmetics companies need to get it out of there. Lead builds up in the body over time and it is extremely toxic to the developing brain. Here are some important quotes on the topic.
“No safe blood lead level has been identified,” states the U.S. Center’s for Disease Control.
“Even the current ‘low’ levels of exposure in children are associated with neurodevelopmental deficits,” writes David Bellinger, PhD, of Harvard Medical School.
“Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can interfere with normal development,” said Sean Palfrey, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at Boston University and medical director of Boston’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.
You have to remember, guys at the Personal Care Products Council: children begin their lives in the bodies of women, millions of whom are using lead-containing lipstick every day.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics first reported the problem of lead in lipstick in 2007. FDA followed up with its own study; with a more sensitive detection method, the agency found even higher levels of lead in lipstick. Yes the levels are overall low, but, see above, there is no safe level of lead exposure.
Most disturbingly, both studies revealed that certain brands of lipstick had much higher lead levels than others (hello L’Oreal and Maybelline) — so clearly there is plenty of room for improvement.
As for FDA, the agency has conducted no safety assessments and has no evidence to back up claims of safety, as we pointed out in a letter to FDA dated January 2010 (still waiting for a response on that one). Meanwhile, environmental groups and several U.S. Senators are insisting that FDA set safety standards for lead in cosmetics based on the lowest lead levels that companies can feasibly achieve – as FDA did with candy.
Does that clear it up?