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For Immediate Release: February 9th, 2009
Contact:  Stacy Malkan, 202-321-6963, stacy@safecosmetics.org

FDA Fails to Protect: Remains Silent About Lead in Lipstick

Canada finds lead in kids’ face paint, declares cosmetic chemicals toxic

Washington - More than a year after the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reported that popular brands of lipstick contain lead, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has still not released the results of its own testing of lead in lipstick, despite pressure from senators and repeated calls from health groups.

New reports indicate that the beauty industry’s lead problems go further than lipstick. The Canadian government announced last week it found lead in children's face paint. The results were publicly announced immediately as the government evaluates next steps.

Health Canada also announced last week that it has designated two silicon-based chemicals widely used in personal care products – D4 and D5 – as toxic, an important step toward regulating dangerous substances out of consumer products.

Unlike Health Canada, the U.S. FDA has no such toxic designation, does not conduct routine safety testing of personal care products, and does not publicly report information in a timely manner -- as evidenced by the lead-in-lipstick situation.

In Oct. 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics reported that 61% of lipsticks it tested contained lead. In Nov. 2007, Sens. John Kerry, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein urged FDA to test a range of lipsticks for lead, publicly report the results, and take immediate action to reduce consumers’ exposure to lead from cosmetic products.

Fourteen months later, FDA has made no public statements, issued no reports, and taken no action to reduce consumers’ exposure.

“The typical turnaround time in a laboratory for lead tests is 10 days. There’s no reason for FDA to sit on its lead-in-lipstick research for over a year,” said Stacy Malkan of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of health and environmental groups.

 “FDA appears to still be operating under Bush-era tactics of secrecy and delay. It’s time for new leadership and new direction at FDA, so the agency can do what Americans expect it to do: ensure the safety of cosmetic products.”

“The scientific data is conclusive: Lead in any amount is a health concern. Lead is a proven neurotoxin that can cause learning and behavioral problems, and pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable.”

Links: Letter from FDA and other correspondence; Science of lead in lipstick

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The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a national coalition of non-profit health, environmental and women’s groups working to eliminate chemicals used in the cosmetics industry linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems.