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FDA Study: Lead Levels in Lipstick Much Higher Than Previously Reported

FDA won't disclose brands; still has no standard for lead in lipstick

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A study by the Food and Drug Administration found lead in lipstick at levels much higher than those detected by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) in a 2007 study that received international attention.

FDA found lead in all 20 lipsticks tested, at 0.09 to 3.06 parts per million - four times higher than the highest level reported in by CSC. FDA used a new method to analyze lipstick and concluded that earlier methods likely underestimated lead levels.

FDA noted that three manufacturers had the highest lead levels, but did not name these brands. The CSC report found a few brands with consistently higher lead levels, including L'Oreal, Maybelline and Cover Girl.

Health experts say lead in lipstick in any amount is a health concern.

"Since recent science suggests that there is truly no safe lead exposure for pregnant women, it is disturbing that manufacturers are allowed to continue to sell lead-containing lipstick," said Sean Palfrey, M.D., medical director of Boston's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

"Lead is a proven neurotoxin linked to learning, language and behavioral problems including lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increased aggression. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can interfere with normal development," said Dr. Palfrey.

The Centers for Disease Control states: "No safe blood lead level has been identified," and suggests avoiding all sources of lead exposure, including lead-containing cosmetics.

Yet FDA has no standard for lead in lipstick. "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 reduce lead in lipstick to the lowest achievable levels," said Lisa Archer, national coordinator for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics at the Breast Cancer Fund.

FDA found an average lead level in lipstick more than 10 times higher than its own standard for lead in candy. FDA's standard for candy is based on the lowest lead level that can be achieved. A similar standard should be applied to lipstick.

Full release at

SOURCE Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
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