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Environment

FDA Considers Lead Limits For Lipstick

by Britt E. Erickson
February 20, 2012 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 90, ISSUE 8

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FDA has found low levels of lead in 400 brands of lipstick, prompting a coalition of advocacy groups called the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to renew a push for strict limits on the neurotoxic metal in cosmetics. The average value of lead in the lipsticks tested by FDA was 1.11 ppm, close to the average of 1.07 ppm reported by FDA in a similar survey in 2007. Lead levels reported in the new survey ranged from 0.03 ppm, the detection limit, to 7.19 ppm. FDA does not believe that the amount of lead found in the lipsticks poses a safety concern. “Lipstick, as a product intended for topical use with limited absorption, is ingested only in very small quantities,” the agency states. Nonetheless, FDA is currently evaluating whether to recommend a limit for lead in lipstick. “The biggest concern is for pregnant women—lead is a potent neurotoxin, and the fetus and very young children are most at risk,” says Jane Houlihan, senior vice president for research at the Environmental Working Group, one of the groups behind the campaign.

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