PIRG Consumer Watchdog: Asbestos Found In Children's Products

By Dev Gowda
Director, Campaign for Toxic-Free Products

The PIRG Consumer Watchdog team recently found that three different products sold by national retail brand Claire’s contain alarming amounts of asbestos. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos, and doctors say that there is no safe limit of asbestos.

In 2018, we shouldn’t tolerate the sale of products that contain toxics—especially products marketed for children. Yet, our Consumer Watchdog team has continually shown that dangerous toxics exist in our everyday products.

Research done by U.S. PIRG Education Fund has revealed lead in toys, chemicals linked to cancer in personal care products and now asbestos hiding in kids’ shimmery makeup.

And while we have the tools to make sure these products are safe, we don’t have the policy we need to make sure these products are thoroughly tested before being sold.

It’s just common sense: Congress can and should mandate safety checks that ensure these consumer products are safe before hitting the shelves.

U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s most recent report found that three different products sold by Claire’s contained asbestos, with one containing over 150,000 fibers of asbestos per gram of product.

That means children have been unknowingly rubbing asbestos on their faces.

While asbestos isn’t used commercially in makeup, it can be found as a in a common ingredient in makeup—talc. Those sparkly, shimmery makeup products that kids know and love are often made with talc. FDA that companies can prevent contamination of talc with asbestos, by selecting talc mining sites carefully and taking steps to purify the ore sufficiently. However, consumers have to contact companies directly to find out if their products’ talc is sourced safely. That’s why our policymakers should mandate companies to conduct testing on makeup products before they hit store shelves.

Inhaling asbestos, ingesting it or even just having asbestos fibers come into contact with your skin can cause lung cancer, skin cancer, mesothelioma and a number of other .

To make matters worse, the effects of asbestos won’t show up immediately. Children can be exposed to asbestos and not suffer the consequences until years down the road.

Kids should never have to worry about mesothelioma when they’re playing with sparkly makeup, which is why we’ve asked Claire’s to remove these toxic products from their shelves. We alerted Claire’s to these test results last week asking the company to recall these items immediately and to inform customers. As of March 9th, we've received nothing more than a cursory response saying that the company is investigating the claims.

But uncovering the problem is just the first step. This is a widespread problem, and a long-term solution should come in the form of policy. We need bills that enforce safety checks to keep contaminated products off the shelves because it’s our responsibility protect our children from exposure to dangerous chemicals.

The good news is that Congress is currently considering a bill that would address this urgent problem. The Children’s Product Warning Label Act of 2018 would require that children’s cosmetics containing talc include an appropriate warning unless the cosmetics are demonstrated to be asbestos-free. Passing this legislation would be a major first step toward protecting our children from asbestos-contaminated products.

We have the tools, we have the know-how, but we need the policy. Kids should be able to play with makeup risk-free. Call on Congress to pass legislation that will protect our kids from asbestos contamination.


Tell your senators to oppose the “Financial CHOICE Act,” which would gut Wall Street reforms and destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as we know it.

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