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Science group calls lead in lipstick scare unfounded

By Guy Montague-Jones , 19-Dec-2007

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) has described claims that lipstick contains dangerous levels of lead as the number one unfounded health scare of 2007.

The issue of lead in lipsticks hit the headlines in autumn after the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics published research claiming that many popular lipsticks contain unacceptably high levels of the poisonous metal. The ACSH dismissed the claims saying there is no evidence that lead in lipstick poses no risk to human health at current trace levels. The science-based interest group said comparing FDA regulations on lead levels in lipstick with candy was misleading given that it is not ingested in anything like the same quantities. Lead in lipstick reached the number one spot in the ACSH's annual list of unfounded health scares, which featured a number of responses to alarming consumer health stories. "ACSH hopes this list of health scares - and the science which shows they are bogus - will alert consumers to be wary of the health scares that will inevitably be launched in 2008," stated ACSH president Elizabeth Whelan. "Bogus health scares distract our attention from the real threats around us - so beware." The ACSH extended its criticism to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics saying the campaigning organization is 'clearly an anti-chemical group with an environmentally-driven agenda.' However, the ACSH has come in for criticism in some quarters for accepting funds from chemical corporations and it has also been accused of representing the interests of the petrochemical industry. The debate over the safety of lipsticks is likely to continue after the former presidential candidate John Kerry led an attack on the FDA calling for a full investigation into the lead content of lipsticks. Democratic Senators John Kerry, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein accused the FDA of oversight and demanded that the regulator takes action to reduce the lead content in lipstick if its test results are in line with those of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

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