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New Study Focuses on Metals Other Than Lead in Lipstick

Aug 19, 2013

A new study is putting renewed attention on the potential dangers of lipstick.

While lead poisoning became the primary concern a few years ago, this new study found that other potentially dangerous metals are also present in many common lip products available to consumers.

Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley have found that not only do many widely available lipsticks contain lead, but they also contain excessive amounts of other metals that could be dangerous during prolonged exposure. This study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives earlier this year.

For the study, UCB researchers examined the metallic contents of 32 lip products available at the consumer level. For the study, those used particularly by “young Asian women” in Oakland, Calif., were examined. The study looked for traces of lead and eight other metals that could have an adverse impact on human health during extended or excessive exposure.

Titanium and aluminum were found in “high concentrations” in most of the 32 products tested for the study. Lead was found in three-quarters (24) of them. Many of the samples that tested positive for lead had concentrations of between 0.36 and 0.39 parts-per-million (ppm). One sample that was tested recorded a lead level of 1.32 ppm, the study notes.

If a person used any of the tested lip products on the study’s gauge for average use, they would get at least 20 percent of a human’s acceptable daily intake (ADI) of the following metals: aluminum, cadmium, chromium, and manganese. That would mean using 10 of these products on a daily basis would result in excessive intakes of chromium. People who used the tested products above average on a daily basis would be receiving excessive amounts of aluminum, chromium, and manganese.

Lead levels, the study found, were actually lower, and even with rampant use of these tested lip products, a person could not achieve 20 percent of the accepted safe level daily.

Researchers concluded: “Cosmetics safety should be assessed not only by the presence of hazardous contents, but also by comparing estimated exposures with health-based standards. In addition to lead, metals such as aluminum, cadmium, chromium, and manganese require further investigation.”

According to a New York Times report on the same study, this is just the latest research to examine the safety of lip products like lipsticks and lip gloss. According to previous research, some people will apply these products more than 20 times a day, which prompted warnings from federal health officials on their safe use and on which products to be cautious of using regularly.

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