In 2015, we reported about the disturbing discovery that some crayons in the United States contained asbestos. Several of the companies with the offending products voluntarily recalled and worked to eliminate the toxin from their products. Now, an investigative reporter has uncovered asbestos contamination in a popular chain’s children’s makeup.
Investigative reporter Diane Wilson of WTVD in Raleigh, North Carolina set out to find out what hidden ingredients are in children’s makeup, according to a July 14 story on ABC 11 Eyewitness News. Seven different makeup products were tested, and when they were analyzed at the Scientific Analytical Institute (SAI) in Greensboro, the results were “alarming.”
Expert Insight“I would treat it like a deadly poison, because it is.”
One of the products, Justice “Just Shine Shimmer Powder,” was tainted with asbestos. In addition, the product contained Barium, Chromium, Lead, and Selenium, all naturally occurring metals that are toxic at high levels of exposure and can lead to serious health conditions, such as cancer. None of the other products, including the other Justice makeups tested, “Just Shine Baked Blush” and “Just Shine Shimmer Bronzing Powder,” contain asbestos.
“In this powder designed for children, they could die an untimely death in their thirties or forties because of the exposure to asbestos in this product,” said Sean Fitzgerald, the Director of Research and Analytical Services at SAI.
Asbestos, a carcinogen, is known to cause mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other respiratory diseases. Most cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed 15-60 years after exposure to the deadly toxin. Most at-risk for the disease are trade workers such as construction workers, insulators, plumbers and pipefitters, electricians, sheet metal workers, auto mechanics, refinery and factory workers and shipyard workers.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports, “Asbestos is a human carcinogen with no safe level of exposure.” The Environmental Working Group Action Fund points out that the risk of developing mesothelioma is about 3.5 times greater for a child first exposed at age five compared to an adult first exposed at age 25, and about five times greater when compared to an adult first exposed at age 30. Anyone exposed to asbestos faces a lifetime risk of developing mesothelioma, leaving children who played with the tainted makeup in jeopardy.
The asbestos contamination in the makeup results from the talc mining process. Talc is one of the primary ingredients in many cosmetics, including makeup and powders, and during the mining process, asbestos, which is also a naturally occurring mineral, can be caught up in the collection of the talc, leading to contamination.
The FDA does not require cosmetic products and ingredients, other than color additives, to have FDA approval before they go on the market. However, the FDA can pursue enforcement action against products on the market that are not in compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or against firms or individuals who violate the law.
A Justice spokesperson issued the following statement:
“Justice has a long and strong history of concern for the health and safety of our girls. We are deeply committed to the safety and integrity of our products. Upon receiving an inquiry about the Just Shine Shimmer Powder product (Item number 192307, or SKU number 19052777), we immediately began an investigation and, out of an abundance of caution, stopped the sale of this product in our stores and on our website.”
Although the product is not available for purchase on the Justice website, the company has not yet issued a recall. (Visit the list of Justice recall products for updates.)
If your child has the Justice “Just Shine Shimmer Powder,” you should not allow your child to use it anymore and you should dispose of the product. Also, make sure to use a wet cloth and clean the area where your children applied the makeup.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by inhaling or swallowing asbestos fibers. There is as yet no known cure and researchers are seeking more effective treatments to manage the disease. Approximately 2,500 to 3,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year.