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In the wake of a recent U.S. PIRG study showing that U.S.-based retailer Claire’s is selling makeup contaminated with asbestos, a government agency in The Netherlands confirmed the results of U.S. PIRG’s study. The Dutch Health and Safety Authority (ILT) ordered Claire’s to remove several makeup products from Dutch store shelves after the agency’s lab testing confirmed that there is asbestos in two makeup products.
Following these findings and similar results by an agency in Brussels, the British government ordered that the asbestos-contaminated products be taken off the shelves in the U.K. and destroyed. Claire’s also offered a refund to European customers who purchased the asbestos-containing items. A warning has been issued to all European Union countries about asbestos contamination in those two Claire’s products.
As of May 3, 2018, Claire’s has not warned its U.S. customers about the asbestos-contaminated makeup, continues to deny that the makeup contains asbestos, and is not offering to refund customers who have purchased the makeup. At least two of these products, Claire’s Compact Powder and Claire’s Shadow and Highlight Finishing Kit, are still available on store shelves in the United States.
“It is unconscionable that these products are still being sold to children here in the U.S., while they have been pulled from the shelves and destroyed in Europe.” said Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG’s toxics director. “We have been doing our part to warn consumers about these products that contain asbestos, but for months Claire’s has lied about this issue to its customers, and the FDA has failed to step in.”
Claire's claims on its website that the Dutch agency ILT certifies some Claire's products as free of asbestos, but it conveniently fails to mention that the Dutch ILT actually found Claire's had been illegally selling asbestos-containing makeup in The Netherlands.
Worse, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA,) which is supposed to protect the public from dangers such as asbestos, may have delayed these European tests for months. On December 29, 2017, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) received a report that Claire’s may be selling makeup with asbestos contamination. The NVWA decided not to test the products because, according to NVWA spokesman Benno Bruggink, the U.S. FDA assured the Dutch that the makeup was “in order.”
The Dutch announcement confirms U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s study from March 13, 2018, which found asbestos contamination in three Claire’s makeup products: Claire’s Contour Palette, Claire’s Shadow and Highlight Finishing Kit, and Claire’s Compact Powder.
Asbestos is not purposefully added to cosmetics. However, asbestos can occur naturally in talc, and talc is commonly added to cosmetics. Sparkly, shimmery, and powdery makeup often contains talc as a major ingredient. Inhaling or ingesting any form of asbestos can lead to serious health conditions, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Repeated topical exposure to asbestos may also result in increased skin cancer risk.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund alerted both Claire’s and the FDA to our findings back in February, but neither the company nor the FDA has issued a recall in the U.S. While European teens are being protected by their government, American kids are still facing an unnecessary and avoidable risk.
The FDA states that asbestos is a carcinogen, and that makeup companies should take steps to keep asbestos outof cosmetics. The FDA is currently performing an investigation into the presence of asbestos in Claire’s makeup. The agency, however, has been slow to act or to publish the findings of its investigation. In the meantime, European agencies have acted swiftly to protect their citizens.
Read U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s initial study finding asbestos in Claire’s products, and laboratory tests here.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund is an independent, non-partisan group that works for consumers and the public interest. Through research, public education and outreach, we serve as counterweights to the influence of powerful special interests that threaten our health, safety, or well-being.
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