Laboratory studies have found that talc-based eye shadow in a children’s toy makeup kit is loaded with deadly asbestos fibers, according to the Washington DC-based Environmental Working Group (EWG).
The consumer and environmental watchdog said that “every gram of the eye shadow in the Princess Girl’s All-in-One Deluxe Makeup Palette tested contained more than 4 million asbestos fiber structures.”
If inhaled, asbestos may become trapped in the lungs, triggering serious and often terminal lung illnesses, including asbestosis and mesothelioma, a form of incurable lung cancer. These diseases often take years, even decades, to develop.
Federal regulators say “there is no ‘safe’ level of exposure for any type of asbestos fiber.” Even brief exposure to asbestos can trigger the development of incurable mesothelioma in humans. Considering the life-threatening risks of asbestos, it’s easy to see why children should be protected from the substance at all costs.
According to EWG, the toy makeup palette is marketed by IQ Toys. Links to the product and company provided by EWG on Jan. 16 no longer work. No recall of the kit is listed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Sadly, the presence of asbestos in the toy makeup kit isn’t unusual. The deadly fiber frequently appears in products imported to the U.S. and marketed to children.
“It seems every time someone tests talc-based toys for the deadly carcinogen, they find it,” said EWG’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber, who recently testified before a congressional oversight committee investigating the presence of asbestos in talc-based consumer products.
“Before parents buy a makeup kit or any toy made with talc, they should seriously consider that it could very well be contaminated with asbestos,” Mr. Faber told the committee.
The dangers of talc came to light in recent years after talcum powder was linked to ovarian cancer and uterine cancers. The presence of asbestos in some popular talcum powder brands such as those made by Johnson & Johnson triggered thousands of lawsuits brought by plaintiffs who accused the company of concealing its knowledge of the health risks associated with its talc-based products.
Giant corporate retailers such as Amazon and eBay take little action to vet the vendors and products they sell, and government regulators lack the resources to test all the products flooding into the U.S. from China and other countries with lax safety standards.
Some effort is being made to better protect kids from the dangerous chemicals and other substances found in imported children’s makeup kits and other toys. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) introduced a bill in March that would require warning labels on any talc-based children’s products that could contain asbestos.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, introduced legislation that would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to review controversial chemicals in cosmetics and determine whether the ingredients are safe, safe at certain levels, or unsafe. The same bill also gives the FDA the authority to recall and stop production of products that pose serious health risks to consumers, including those that contain asbestos.
Until such legislation becomes law, it’s up to parents and guardians to protect their kids from hazardous toys as much as possible. But any child may still be able to play with such toys at the house of a friend or relative.
The EWG is calling on retailers to be more proactive when it comes to selling toys with hidden hazards.
“Amazon, Ebay and any other retailer marketing this and similar makeup kit ‘toys’ from IQ Toys should take heed of these test results and immediately pull these products from their websites,” said EWG’s Vice President for Healthy Living Science Nneka Leiba. “Taking steps to safeguard children from exposure to one of the deadliest carcinogens in the world should always come before profits.”