Ex-presidential candidate criticizes FDA over lead in lipsticks

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Safe cosmetics Cosmetics Fda

Former presidential candidate John Kerry is leading an attack on
the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), criticizing the
regulatory body for failing to respond to the potential health
hazard of lead in lipsticks.

The issue of lead in lipsticks hit the headlines recently after the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics published research claiming that many popular lipsticks contain unacceptably high levels of the poisonous metal. Senators call for a full investigation​ Democratic Senators John Kerry, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein called for a full investigation into the lead content of lipsticks accusing the FDA of oversight. While the FDA had promised to investigate the lead content of the lipsticks tested by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the senators consider the promise inadequate and have made two demands on the regulator:

  • The FDA should perform tests on a wide range of lipstick brands in a variety of colors and publicize the results.

  • If the results of these tests are in line with those reached by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the FDA should take action to reduce consumer exposure to lead. It should also establish a maximum level of lead in lipstick and other cosmetic products.

Criticisms of the FDA ​ Commenting on the issue of lead in lipsticks, the Democratic Senators were highly critical of the FDA. "Dangerous levels of lead in lipstick is the latest reminder that insufficient safeguards at the FDA pose real risks to everyday Americans,"​ said former presidential hopeful John Kerry. "There has been a continuous flow of unnerving news in recent months about the FDA's clear lack of oversight and inspection." ​ The chairman of the environment and public works committee, Senator Barbara Boxer said: "Toxic chemicals like lead do not belong in cosmetics such as lipstick that people may be exposed to everyday. The FDA should do everything in its power to get products with lead off the shelf." ​ CosmeticsDesign.com tried to contact the FDA about the criticisms made by the Senators but nobody was available to comment. Trade associations defend lipstick manufacturers ​ Lead is a poisonous metal that in large doses can cause brain and blood disorders but cosmetics trade associations on both sides of the Atlantic insist that the amount of lead found in lipsticks is negligible and poses no health risk to consumers. "The average amount of lead a woman would be exposed to when using cosmetics is 1,000 times less than the amount she would get from eating, breathing and drinking water that meets Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drinking water standards,"​ stated the US trade organization, the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CTFA). In its initial report the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics argued that the FDA has set a 0.1 ppm limit on lead in candy, while it had found as much as 0.65 ppm of lead in lipsticks. Sebastian Marx, spokesperson for the European Cosmetic, Toiletry and Perfumery Association (COLIPA), told CosmeticsDesign.com that it was unfair to make a direct comparison between lead levels in food and lipstick. He said: "The amount of lipstick that you ingest is much smaller when used normally than it would be if you ate it. "We have the same opinion as the CTFA. The levels of lead that have been found in cosmetics are minimal and its presence is not a health hazard."

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