TORONTO, May 16 /CNW/ - Cosmetic products that Canadians put on their
faces every day have been found to contain toxic heavy metals, such as
lead, arsenic, and cadmium, according to a report released today by
Environmental Defence. In a lab test of the products in six Canadian
women's makeup bags, each of the 49 products was found to be
contaminated with heavy metals and some products contained levels of
arsenic and lead that far exceeded the limits recommended by Health
Canada. None of the products listed the metals on the labels.
"Canadians deserve to know what is in their cosmetics," said Dr. Rick
Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence. "Given the choice,
we think most consumers would not put arsenic or lead on their lips and
The tests, done by SGS Canada, found that 100% of products tested
contained nickel, 96% contained lead, and 90% contained beryllium
At least one of the products tested contained seven of the eight metals
of concern (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, beryllium, nickel,
selenium, and thallium)
On average, products contained four of the eight metals of concern
The highest levels of arsenic (70 ppm), cadmium (3 ppm), and lead (110
ppm) were all found in lip glosses, something which could be ingested
The product containing the highest level of lead was Benefit Benetint
lip gloss, at 110ppm, over 10 times higher than the 10ppm limit set out
in the Health Canada Draft Guidance on Heavy Metal Impurities in Cosmetics. This same product contained 70ppm of Arsenic, which is over 20 times
higher than Health Canada's recommended limit of 3ppm.
The heavy metals are "impurities" - unintentional contaminants in
products - and therefore subject to less regulation and disclosure than
intentional ingredients. Health Canada has developed draft guidelines
for some metals impurity levels it believes are "technically avoidable"
by manufacturers. However, a study of 20 lipsticks conducted by the
United States Food and Drug Administration in 2009 showed lead impurity
levels averaged 1.07 ppm, where Canada's current draft guideline for
lead impurities is 10 ppm, which is considerably high by comparison.
The products tested largely met Canada's draft guidelines; however, the
guidelines should reflect that lower levels of lead are clearly
"technically avoidable". Moreover, the current draft guidelines only
set limits for 5 heavy metals, where our testing found high levels of
other heavy metal impurities that do not yet have a draft limit.
"Canada should improve the guidelines on impurities in cosmetics so they
better reflect what is truly feasible, then adopt them without delay,"
said Smith. "These have been in the draft stage since March 2009."
"It makes me sick to realize that these chemicals and metals are in the
products that I apply to my body," said Meggin Dueckman, makeup testing
volunteer. "I feel that I am a careful consumer, and prefer to do
research on personal care products before buying them. I normally read
product labels as well. Despite this, the makeup that I have chosen to
use all contains ingredients that I would avoid."
As a group, heavy metals can build up in the body over time and are
known to cause varied health problems, which can include: cancer,
reproductive and developmental disorders, neurological problems; memory
loss; mood swings; nerve, joint and muscle disorders; cardiovascular,
skeletal, blood, immune system, kidney and renal problems; headaches;
vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea; lung damage; contact dermatitis; and
brittle hair and hair loss. Many are suspected hormone disruptors and
respiratory toxins, and for some like lead, there is no known safe
"The concern is not just that heavy metals are in our makeup, but
exposure to these toxins through the products we apply to our skin, in
the air we breathe, and in our water and food supply can all add up and
accumulate in your body," added Dr. Smith. "What this means is that we
should be striving to achieve the lowest impurity limits possible."
Some cosmetic companies are moving towards plant-based colorants and
away from petroleum or coal tar-based colorants, to avoid product
contamination with heavy metals. Others are asking their suppliers to
screen for contaminants and source the least contaminated ingredients
The report is available at http://environmentaldefence.ca/heavy-metal-hazard
About Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence is Canada's most effective environmental
action organization. We challenge, and inspire change in government,
business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life
SOURCE Environmental Defence
For further information:
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Stephanie Kohls, Environmental Defence, 416-323-9521 ext. 232; 647-280-9521 (cell)