A recent study in the May 2 Environmental Health Perspectives reveals that commercial lipstick and lip gloss products contain potentially hazardous levels of heavy metals, such as aluminum, cadmium, chromium and manganese. The study also notes that young people (i.e. teenage girls) tend to absorb heavy metals they are exposed to at higher rates than adults.

The article notes that the last decade has seen considerable publicity regarding the lead (which causes brain damage, particularly in children and young people) in lip products. It seems the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has solved the problem of lead in lipstick, by declaring that lip products are allowed to contain led levels lower than the 0.1 ppm maximum level of lead allowed in candy(?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!),

People can check it out for themselves on the FDA website. According the FDA, it’s totally safe for children to ingest as much lead-laden candy as they want, so long as the concentration of each piece of candy is less than 0.1 ppm (parts per million)  This is interesting as it contradicts the finding by another federal agency - Centers for Disease Control (CDC) -that no level of lead consumption in children is considered safe.

In contrast the EU Cosmetics Directive makes it illegal to manufacture, import or sell any cosmetic products with detectable concentrations of lead The Directive also lists cadmium and chromium as unacceptable constituents of cosmetic products.

Cadmium is a known human carcinogen associated with lung cancer and respiratory system damage, kidney and bone impairments. Animal studies have shown that exposure to cadmium during pregnancy can result in low birth weights, skeletal deformities and behavior and learning problems

Chromium is also a known human carcinogen; inhalation causes lung cancer and oral exposure through drinking water has been linked with increased stomach tumors.

According to the authors of the EHP article, existing evidence linking manganese in drinking water with neurological and neurobehavioral problems in children is still inconclusive.

Even more concerning to someone of my age are studies linking high manganese levels to Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aheh.200400556/abstract

http://www.alzforum.org/new/detail.asp?id=2770

http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijad/2011/607543/ref/

I believe in the Precautionary Principle. If cosmetics want women to use their products, they have an absolute obligation to prove that they are safe.

photo credit: Auntie P via photopin cc