Asbestos Exposure & Bans

FDA Investigates Cosmetic Products for Asbestos Contamination

Written By:
Mar 22, 2012
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Written By: Mark Hall,
March 22, 2012

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it concluded testing dozens of cosmetic products for asbestos contamination.

Following up on concerns raised about the safety of some cosmetics, the FDA quietly had laboratory testing performed on approximately 34 different products between Sept. 28, 2009, and Sept. 27, 2010.

Asbestos, a naturally occurring yet toxic mineral, could theoretically end up in makeup products because of its relationship to talc, which is widely used in cosmetics to absorb moisture and improve the textural feel of products.

Both minerals are naturally located in close proximity of each other in the earth.

Because asbestos exposure is linked to numerous health concerns including lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural plaques, its use in cosmetic products could have tremendous health ramifications for consumers. Some research has even shown potential connections to gastrointestinal cancers and other diseases.

In its testing of the cosmetics, the FDA worked with a third party to conduct a survey of cosmetic-grade raw material talc and talc that was already contained within makeup.

The Testing Process

The FDA began by finding cosmetic talc supplies through the 2008 edition of International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook. Seven were found through this channel, two more were found through online search.

Four of the nine companies agreed to participate with the FDA’s request.

AMA Analytical Services, Inc. was contracted to perform the actual laboratory testing, since the FDA’s cosmetic lab doesn’t have the proper equipment required to accurately obtain the results.

Among the 34 total cosmetic products that were tested included eye shadow, blush, foundation, face powder and body powder.

All the various samples were examined and analyzed three times according to methods published by reputable agencies like the New York Department of Health and the Environmental Laboratory Approval Program.

And the Results Are In . . .

Survey testing found that no asbestos fibers were found in any samples of the cosmetic products that contained talc, which bodes well for all cosmetic consumers.

However, the FDA has labeled the results as “informative” but not conclusive because only four out of the requested nine participated in the study.

The agency states that the results do not definitively prove whether asbestos-containing talc is or is not being marketed and sold across retailers in the United States.

Just as this concern has been raised in the past, it is likely to be raised again in the future until widespread and complete testing is conducted across all major cosmetic suppliers and brands.

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