It has long been known that lipsticks and many other popular cosmetic products contain varying amounts of lead. Unfortunately, that is perfectly legal - the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has no lead limit for cosmetics, and manufacturers are free to include as much of the harmful mineral in their products as they would like.

However, more consumers and news outlets are becoming aware of (and unhappy about) the inclusion of lead in cosmetics and the potential harm it could cause. Recently, Good Morning America conducted a test of lead amounts in 22 different lipsticks and lip glosses, with varying results.

Using the government's own test method, the researchers found that 12 of the 22 cosmetics contained trace amounts of lead. This amounted to just over half of the samples tested. In sum, lead levels ranged from zero to 3.22 parts per million. On the positive side, this is lower than the legal limit for lipstick in California, which has set that limit at 5 parts per million, and less than when the FDA tested lipsticks in 2010, when the highest lead level was 7 parts per million. However, it is still highly concerning, to say the least.

Consumer advocates warn that even trace amounts of lead in lipstick can pass to a woman's unborn baby when she is pregnant. On this topic, federal agencies do not agree: the FDA's position is that small amounts of lead in lipstick are not harmful to fetuses, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that there is no safe level of lead for children.

What is clear is that more research needs to be done to determine the effects of lead on women and children of all ages. Hopefully, the government will take the appropriate action to protect consumers.

Source: ABC News, "Does Lipstick Contain Lead? 'GMA' Tests Lipsticks and Lip Glosses," Elizabeth Leamy, Dec. 3, 2012

At our St. Louis personal injury law firm, we help people who have been injured by a dangerous or defective product such as the cosmetics discussed above. To learn more, please visit our products liability page.