EWG Applauds Bill to Warn of Asbestos in Cosmetics

WASHINGTON – Today EWG praised legislation introduced by Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., that would mandate warnings for cosmetics marketed to children that might contain asbestos.

The legislation would require companies to demonstrate that cosmetics marketed to children are free of asbestos – otherwise products would need to carry a warning. The bill would also update methods to test cosmetics for the presence of asbestos.

Dingell’s bill comes after recent reports of asbestos in cosmetics sold by the retailers Claire’s and Justice.

“It’s simply outrageous that cosmetics can contain asbestos and still be legal,” said Emily Griffith, EWG’s cosmetics law fellow. “And it’s especially troubling that asbestos is being detected in cosmetics marketed to children and teens.”

Asbestos can contaminate cosmetics made from talc, such as facial powders and eye shadow. Even small amounts of asbestos can cause mesothelioma and other diseases many years after exposure.

Geologically, talc and asbestos can be formed from the same parent rock. As a result, mined talc deposits in many parts of the world can be contaminated with asbestos fibers. This is the likely reason why products made with talc could be contaminated with asbestos.

While some companies take steps to reduce risks of asbestos contamination, federal law does not prohibit asbestos in cosmetics and other personal care products. The Food and Drug Administration encourages companies to test talc for asbestos, but the FDA standard for asbestos testing is more than 40 years old.

Under the Dingell bill, companies would be required to use updated testing methods to ensure that cosmetics do not contain asbestos. If companies decline to certify that products are free from asbestos, companies would be required to warn consumers that the product has not been tested and is not suitable for use by children.

“EWG thanks Rep. Dingell for introducing commonsense legislation to warn consumers when companies fail to protect us from dangerous products,” Griffith said.

“It is difficult to believe that decades after the threats of asbestos had been established, it is still putting people, especially young children, at risk,” said Linda Reinstein, president and CEO of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, or ADAO. “Rep. Dingell’s bill should pass with unanimous support among her colleagues in Congress, and every parent should applaud her efforts to keep kids safe from something as lethal as asbestos.”

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