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Asbestos in Consumer Products

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Talc is used in consumer products

Is there Asbestos in Consumer Products such as Powder Cosmetics?

Asbestos is not purposefully added to cosmetics or other products such as baby powder. However, asbestos can occur naturally in talc, a substance that is commonly added to these products. Sparkly, shimmery and powdery makeup often contains talc as a major ingredient.

The US FDA strongly encourages cosmetic companies to test for traces of asbestos in their products, but there is currently no federal law requiring it. Recently, US-based cosmetic retailers and other companies have been under litigation and forced to remove products from store shelves in Europe due to their confirmed presences of asbestos.

Health Effects

Inhaling or ingesting asbestos, even in small amounts, can cause serious health problems such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. Repeated topical exposure to asbestos may also result in increased skin cancer risk. While there has never been a medically documented case of a person diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease traced to cosmetics, cosmetics with trace amounts of asbestos are far more easily inhaled due to their placement on the face and body.

Regulations

In 2017, legislation began to take an interest in asbestos in cosmetics, but there is currently no federal regulation regarding the use of talc in cosmetics. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strongly encourage cosmetic companies to test for traces of asbestos, there is no federal law requiring it. The current FDA protocol does not include the technology-advanced TEM to test for the toxic material.

Analytical Methods

  • Currently there is no published method for asbestos testing in powder cosmetics. The existing asbestos testing methods by EPA are for building materials with a reporting limit of 1%. However, the powder cosmetic products may contain asbestos in the quantity significantly lower than 1%.

  • ECEI conducted analysis for asbestos in store-bought makeup. Through a validation study, it was determined that this in-house TEM method can determine asbestos with a reporting limit of 0.1% in powder cosmetic products.

How Eurofins CEI Can Help

Eurofins CEI offers a comprehensive suite of testing services for asbestos in powder cosmetics:

  • Our PLM and TEM Chatfield methods offer semi-quantitative analysis with a reporting limit of 1%
  • Our in-house TEM method offers semi-quantitative analysis with a report limit of 0.1%
  • Our modified EPA 600 method offers quantitative analysis with a reporting limit of 0.01%
  • Eurofins CEI can develop customer specific analytical methods
  • Eurofins CEI experts can also provide litigation support if needed

Additional Information/Resources

- Hidden Dangers of Talc - Asbestos.com
Eurofins CEI Asbestos Testing Services