On January 16th, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released findings concerning a children’s makeup palette containing a staggering amount of asbestos. Manufactured by IQ Toys, the makeup was marketed for young girls ages three and up and found to contain more than four million asbestos fibers per gram of eye shadow. Sold across a variety of retailers including Amazon and eBay, the product has since been removed from all online platforms.
Discovered in an eye shadow from another makeup kit, a similar incident happened less than a year ago when Claires issued a voluntary recall on three of their makeup items that tested positive for asbestos. Geologically, talc and asbestos occur naturally together in the environment, and when mining the mineral it can be easy for asbestos to contaminate talc deposits that end up in consumer products.
Asbestos, once considered a miracle mineral for its heat resistance and durability, was used in over 3,000 products in its height, from household kitchen appliances to building materials. It was deemed a human carcinogen in 1987 after thousands of people developed serious lung conditions. While those who were directly affected were people who worked in occupational positions such as construction and building, many were also exposed secondhand by unknowingly bringing it into their households.
Once inhaled, microscopic asbestos fibers embed themselves into the body and remain there long-term, leading to chronic and fatal health issues. Asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer that targets the lining of crucial organs. Due to the latency period of asbestos-related diseases, symptoms don’t arise for decades, leading the point of exposure difficult to pinpoint. Because children’s bodies are still developing, their vulnerability to this toxin leaves more time for mesothelioma and similar illnesses to harbor in the body and create problems.
With the magnitude of products we encounter every day, it can be hard to ensure that they’re all safe. Thousands of natural and man-made chemicals are present in the environment--inside and out, in air, food, water, and consumer products. Most commercially used chemicals have never been adequately assessed for safety, nor have they been bio-monitored for their presence in humans. In fact, up to 420 carcinogens are found in the average person at any given time.
It’s up to individuals to take action and vet products that may potentially contain substances that could cause harm to themselves and families. Websites like EWG verified products, MADE SAFE and Think Dirty make it easier than ever to check products and divulge whether or not they’re safe to use. Scoping out reviews on products and reading parent reactions or opinions on items their children are using can also provide input in making a more informed decision. While it’s disheartening that companies refuse to ensure their products are the safest for consumers, it’s on the public to be conscious of what they’re buying.
Zen Honeycutt and the MAA Team