By Margarita Nahapetyan
A new analysis by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has discovered lead in lipstick at levels much higher than what was reported nearly two years ago by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC), a consumer advocacy group, that first shed light on the danger.
The FDA has used new techniques in order to determine the total lead content in an array of lipsticks sold in the United States. The agency scientists have developed and validated a method for detecting and analyzing total lead content in lipstick by means of microwave-assisted digestion using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). This new technology is very sensitive, with a detection limit estimated to be 0.04 parts per million.
Nearly twenty four brands of lipstick analyzed by the Food and Drug Administration were found to carry potentially dangerous levels of lead that are way higher when compared to those found in a CSC study. All the brands of the popular cosmetic product studied by the FDA tested positive for lead, some at levels 4 times higher when compared to those detected in the 2007 study. The new FDA testing found lead in lipstick at between 0.09 and 3.06 ppm.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics study from two years ago tested more than thirty popular-brand lipsticks sold in the United States and discovered that more than 50 per cent had detectable levels of lead, with eleven of them exceeding 0.1 ppm, the FDA lead limit for candy. Among the brands found to have high lead levels were such popular and famous brands as L'Oreal, Cover Girl, Christian Dior and Maybelline. The analysis showed that L'Oreal Colour Riche True Red had a lead content of 0.65 ppm, L'Oreal Colour Riche Classic Wine had 0.58 ppm and Cover Girl's IncrediFull Lipcolor Maximum Red had 0.56 parts per million.
Lead is a dangerous chemical that is known to cause cancer, reproductive harm and can also lead to mental and physical retardation as well as behavioral problems in kids. In adults, lead can be very dangerous for the nervous system. According to the most recent studies, there is no level of lead that is considered as safe. Exposure to high lead levels has also been associated with severe injuries, including learning disabilities and problems with learning a language. Expectant mothers who are exposed to lead through their lipstick may pass along the toxin to their fetuses, who may at a later time experience developmental retardation and other health-related issues.
"Lead is a proven neurotoxin linked to learning, language and behavioral problems including lowered IQ, reduced school performance and increased aggression," said Sean Palfrey, M.D., medical director of Boston's Lead Poisoning Prevention Program. "Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can interfere with normal development."
The FDA Web site indicates that the agency does not consider the lead levels that it found in the lipsticks to be a safety concern as the product, intended for topical use, is only ingested in very rare cases and in very small quantities. Some feel that it is not a right thing to compare lead levels in food and lipstick, that the amount of lipstick a person can ingest normally is much smaller than if consumed. In spite of this fact, lead builds up in the body over some period of time and many people think that lipstick which contains lead, applied several times a day, on a daily basis, can add up to significant exposure levels.
The study is published in a recent issue of the Journal of Cosmetic Science.