Popular clothing and accessories retailer Claire’s is removing makeup from its shelves after asbestos fibres were found in several cosmetic products.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public advisory to consumers to avoid purchasing cosmetics from the retailer after tests revealed traces of tremolite asbestos.
The FDA also encouraged consumers who have purchased Claire’s Eye Shadows batch no/lot no: 08/17, Claire’s Compact Powder bath no/lot no: 07/15, and Claire’s Contour Palette batch no/lot no: 04/17 to stop use and dispose of the product.
The agency said they began testing products after receiving reports of contaminated cosmetics marketed by Claire’s, noting that they have not received reports of any “adverse reactions” associated with exposure to the product.
#WARNING: FDA is advising consumers NOT to use certain @claires eye shadows, compact powder, & contour powder products because they may be contaminated w/ #asbestos fibers. If you have these cosmetics in your home – stop using them. https://t.co/CqtxENLZye pic.twitter.com/GTYdnWzKva
— FDA Cosmetics (@FDACosmetics) March 5, 2019
Claire’s released a statement following the FDA safety alert, assuring customers that products were safe for purchase.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we have removed the three products identified by the FDA from our stores, and are also removing any remaining talc based cosmetic products,” the statement read. “We will honour returns of any Claire’s talc based cosmetics.”
The retailer went on to state that the FDA’s findings “show significant errors” and that all of their products were tested independently and adhere to “relevant cosmetic safety regulations.”
“Claire’s has publicly stated that it has removed the three products identified by the US Food and Drug Administration from its stores in Canada. Officials will continue to monitor the situation closely and will communicate to Canadians should further risks be identified. Canada’s new Prohibition of Asbestos and Products Containing Asbestos Regulations prohibit anything but trace amounts of asbestos in consumer products. While Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for compliance and enforcement of these regulations, Health Canada works collaboratively with the department to keep Canadians safe,” Health Canada said in a statement to Yahoo Canada.
In 2017, Health Canada tested Claire’s products after receiving reports they contained asbestos, and determined that at the time, they were safe to use.
Claire’s claims the FDA’s characterization of fibres as asbestos contradicts the criteria established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and United States Phramacopeia (USP). “Despite our best efforts to discuss these issues with the FDA, they insist on moving forward with their release,” the retailer continued. “We are disappointed that the FDA has taken this step, and we will continue to work with them to demonstrate the safety in our products.”
At Claire’s, customer safety is paramount, and we pride ourselves on providing our customers with the highest quality and safest products. We wish to address today's FDA warning that three cosmetic items sold by Claire’s may have been contaminated with asbestos. pic.twitter.com/tpNfLRtNIK
— Claire's (@claires) March 6, 2019
Asbestos contamination is a serious health issue that has long-plagued the cosmetics and talcum powder industry.
A naturally occurring mineral used in makeup and baby powder, talc can contain asbestos, a known carcinogenic. Whether inhaled or used on areas of the body such as the genitals, under the breasts or under arms, the body absorbs talc and its potential carcinogens into the lymph nodes which can lead to cancer.
Researchers first linked talc to cancer in the 1970s when doctors noticed talc particles in tumours of patients with ovarian cancer. In 1973 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforced standards to ensure that all talc products be tested to ensure they are asbestos-free.
Despite the new regulations, a 1982 study by Dr. Daniel Cramer revealed that women who used talcum powder products on their genitals had a 92 per cent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
The findings came just months after Johnson & Johnson was awarded to pay $4.7 billion USD in damages to 22 women and their families who claimed asbestos found in the company’s talcum powder contributed to their ovarian cancer.
In 2016, a separate lawsuit ended with the family of an Alabama woman receiving $72 million USD after she died of ovarian cancer which they say was caused by using Johnson & Johnson products which contained talcum.
The company has been sued by more than 9,000 women who link the use of talcum powder to their ovarian cancer, although Johnson & Johnson repeatedly denies the link.
The American Cancer Society advises that people “avoid or limit” the use of talcum products whenever possible until further studies on the ingredient’s effects can be completed.
According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the regulations regarding cosmetic safety hasn’t been updated in more than 80 years, meaning makeup products aren’t held to the same government regulations as personal hygiene products or household items.
However, some cosmetics companies have taken it upon themselves to produce products that are completely talc free, including Smashbox, Honest Beauty, and bareMinerals.
Reading ingredients as well doing research on your go-to brands for household products, personal hygiene items and can help limit your exposure to talc.
If choosing to use talcum powder products, even those listed as asbestos-free talcum powder, do your best to avoid inhalation, keep out of reach from children and do not use on your genitals.