Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

FDA says toxic lead makes lipstick dangerous, especially for pregnant women September 25, 2009

Did you know that top selling lipstick brands contain more than 10 times higher than U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)s standard for lead in candy? Health experts say lead in lipstick is a health concern in any amount.

While the FDA noted that three manufacturers had the highest levels of lead, they did not reveal the names of  those brands. In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reported consistently higher lead levels in lipsticks manufactured by L’Oreal, Maybelline and Cover Girl.

“Since recent science suggests that there is truly no safe lead exposure for children and pregnant women, it is disturbing that manufacturers are allowed to continue to sell lead-containing lipsticks,” said Sean Palfrey, M.D., a professor of pediatrics and public health at Boston University and the medical director of Boston’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

According to Dr. Palfrey:

  • Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems such as lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increased aggression.
  • 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.

Dr. Mark Mitchell, president of the Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice, agrees; “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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plainly advises avoiding all sources of lead exposure, stating, “No safe blood lead level has been identified.”

Yet FDA has no standard for lead in lipstick. Lisa Archer, national coordinator for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund reports, “Pregnant women using lipstick are unknowingly exposing their fetuses to unknown and unregulated levels of lead. FDA should immediately set standards to require manufacturers to make lipstick as safe as possible.”

For more info: Women should be encouraged to shop for natural, organic cosmetics. Visit the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database for a list of the world’s safest beauty products.
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