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The Kiss of Death: Potentially Dangerous Lead Levels in Lipstick

Talk about a kiss of death.

According to a recent report by the Los Angeles Times, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is raising concern over findings from the FDA showing that popular brands of lipstick contain trace amounts of lead. However, despite the fact that the levels of lead have doubled since the last time that the FDA looked into this branch of the cosmetics industry, government officials are insisting that the findings are not a cause for concern. Nevertheless, a physician on behalf of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics stated that “lead builds up in the body over time and lead-containing lipstick applied several times a day, every day, can add up to significant exposure levels.”

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition of public health, educational, religious, labor, women’s, environmental, and consumer groups whose goal is to protect the health of consumers and workers by requiring the health and beauty industry to phase out additives that have been linked to cancer and other serious adverse health consequences. One of the Campaign’s major platforms is advocating that the government set limits for lead levels in lipstick.

Although cosmetics are generally regulated within the cosmetic industry, when necessary, cosmetic products are regulated by the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, a branch of the FDA that is also responsible for regulating food. Labeling of cosmetics is regulated by the FDA, and if merchandise has not been tested prior to being placed on the market, companies are required to place a warning on the products alerting consumers to this fact.

Before products are placed on the market they are required to undergo testing to ensure that they comply with industry safety standards. When dangerous or defective products cause harm or illness to consumers, manufacturers may be held legally responsible for the injuries caused by the products, and the monetary damages caused by those injuries. When this happens, it may give rise to an Illinois personal injury lawsuit.

In this latest investigation, more than one third of lipsticks tested exceeded the FDA’s limit for lead in candy, reported the Los Angeles Times. However, the FDA replied to this allegation in online comments by saying that “it is not scientifically valid to equate the risk to consumers presented by lead levels in candy, a product intended for ingestion, with that associated with lead levels in lipstick, a product intended for topical use and ingested in much smaller quantities than candy.” The Personal Care Products Council, a trade group that represents the cosmetics industry, agreed with the FDA.

Said the Los Angeles Times, lead is not intentionally put in lipstick or any other cosmetic but that many color additives approved by the FDA are mineral-based and therefore contain trace levels of lead that is naturally found in soil, water and air. Nevertheless, if chemicals in products harm consumers, the corporation manufacturing the cosmetics may be made to pay damages in an Illinois personal injury lawsuit.

The lipsticks in question that contain high lead levels were manufactured by Maybelline, L’Oreal, NARS, Cover Girl, and Stargazer. If you or a loved one have purchased these cosmetics and been harmed as a result, contact a personal injury attorney to be apprised of your rights under the law.