Consumers Demand Mandatory Testing of Cosmetics for Asbestos

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For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, March 4, 2020

WASHINGTON – Nearly 25,000 Americans are urging federal regulators to require the cosmetics industry to test for the presence of asbestos in cosmetics and to share the results.

Today the Environmental Working Group, the National Women’s Health Network, the American Association for Justice and Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity presented more than 25,000 signatures to the Food and Drug Administration. The petition calls on the FDA to require more sensitive methods for detecting asbestos in talc.

Currently, cosmetic companies are not required to test for asbestos or to share the results with the FDA.

“EWG and others have repeatedly found asbestos in products made with talc, including cosmetics marketed to children,” said EWG Legislative Director Colin O’Neil.

In January, tests commissioned by EWG found the notorious carcinogen in a makeup kit marketed to girls, and other tests have found asbestos in products marketed by national retailers Claire’s and Justice. EWG has identified more than 2,000 cosmetics and personal care products that contain talc, including more than 1,000 loose or pressed powders that could be inhaled.

Geologically, talc and asbestos can be formed from the same parent rock. As a result, talc deposits mined in many parts of the world can be contaminated with asbestos fibers.

“It’s outrageous that a precise method for testing personal care products for the presence of asbestos exists but the cosmetics industry isn’t required to use it,” O’Neil said.

Asbestos is one of the most dangerous substances on Earth. From federal mortality data, EWG Action Fund estimated that up to 15,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-triggered diseases, including mesothelioma and asbestosis.

In addition to the nearly 25,000 Americans who signed the petitions, a number of public interest organizations sent a letter today to FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, urging him to move ahead with requiring companies to adopt the new testing method.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.