Last week, due to asbestos in makeup, a new regulatory framework for cosmetics was requested from Congress by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The cosmetics industry has expanded in many ways since the current regulatory framework was created more than 80 years ago. The FDA said there are currently no legal requirements for any cosmetic manufacturer selling goods to American consumers to test their products for safety. Asbestos in cosmetic products is alarming because it can be absorbed through the skin. Further, a very small amount of asbestos can be very dangerous.
The FDA also issued a warning to consumers not to use three cosmetic products sold by Claire’s Stores Inc. These three products tested positive for asbestos. Claire’s disputes the test results. The three products are:
- Claire’s Eye Shadows – Batch No/Lot No: 08/17
- Claire’s Compact Powder – Batch No/Lot No: 07/15
- Claire’s Contour Palette – Batch No/Lot No: 04/17
The harm done to Americans due to the use of Asbestos, a known carcinogen, has led to numerous class action lawsuits. Asbestos contamination of talc has been prominent in recent news stories about Johnson and Johnson powders. In December, Reuters published an article that claimed that Johnson and Johnson knew the talc in its raw and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos between the 1970s and the 2000s. The article also claims that Johnson and Johnson failed to disclose the test results to regulators or to consumers.
According to the New York Times, “Talc is a mineral in clay mined from underground deposits. It’s the softest mineral known to man and that makes it useful in a wide range of consumer and industrial products. Asbestos is also found underground, and veins of it can often be found in talc deposits, leading to a risk of cross-contamination, geologists say.” [https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/14/business/talc-asbestos-powder-facts.html].
It is disturbing that cosmetics may contain asbestos. In this day of global sourcing of product ingredients and of importing products from other countries that may not have strict safety regulations, the cosmetics we use may contain asbestos. What is more there is no requirement that all ingredients in these products must be reported or revealed to the consumer.
It is particularly disturbing that “play” cosmetics made for children also contain asbestos and that there is no law or regulation prohibiting these products from being sold in the U.S. One article about asbestos in children’s cosmetics was published by Goop: https://goop.com/wellness/health/asbestos-in-makeup-for-kids-is-legal-and-totally-happening-in-this-country/.
Today (March 19, 2019) The U.S. House of Representatives is considering a bill introduced by Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois), called the Children’s Product Warning Label Act. This bill would require that any cosmetic product that contains talc and is marketed to children must have a label warning that it may contain asbestos.
Clearly the FDA warning is being heeded by Congress. It remains for consumers to read product labels in order to identify products that contain talc or asbestos. It remains for Congress to pass legislation requiring appropriate labeling and testing for asbestos and outlining a new regulatory framework for cosmetics.
It is easy for Americans to complain about government regulation of the ingredients in and production of the cosmetics and other products we use. This issue of asbestos in some cosmetics is a clear example of the reason for these regulations. When we consider the complete lack of regulatory control over the ingredients in children’s makeup, many people will demand a new regulatory framework from the government to protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens from potential harm from products containing carcinogens.