Standing outside a Claire's Store in Sea Girt, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate Claire's Stores, Inc., and Justice Retail following reports that tremolite asbestos, a known human carcinogen, was found in cosmetic products marketed to girls and young women.
Pallone's call for an FDA investigation follows a series of disturbing reports of multiple cosmetic
companies' products being found to contain toxic ingredients. Last July, Justice Retail came under scrutiny after its Just Shine Shimmer Powder was found to contain high levels of asbestos and toxic heavy metals including lead. Then, in December an independent laboratory reportedly examined 17 Claire's cosmetic products in 9 states, and found that each tested positive for tremolite asbestos.
Pallone has long advocated for greater transparency in the cosmetic and personal care product industry and is pushing to have the Energy and Commerce pass legislation this year that would:
Require companies to register cosmetic ingredient statements with the FDA—giving FDA for the first time comprehensive information about what companies are manufacturing cosmetics.
Require companies to notify FDA about any adverse events associated with cosmetics within 15 days. Today companies only voluntarily submit this information to FDA.
Require companies to substantiate the safety of their products, ensuring that they are safe for the use they are marketed for.
Allow FDA to conduct safety reviews of cosmetic ingredients and recall products associated with serious health events.
Require warnings on cosmetic products that are not appropriate for the entire population, such as products that could be dangerous if used by children or pregnant women.
And provides FDA with $20.6 million in user fees annually to conduct all of this new and important work.
“Recently, we've heard the frightening stories of make-up kits marketed to young girls around the country that were contaminated with tremolite asbestos,” said Pallone. “It is well known that repeated exposure to asbestos is associated with six different cancers, as well as mesothelioma and scarring of the lungs. We need to the FDA to get to the bottom of the situation at Claire's and be proactive in addressing contaminants in other products.”
“The FDA needs greater authority today to hold these manufacturers responsible. Until Congress modernizes FDA's authority over cosmetics, American families will continue to be at unnecessary risk of exposure to toxic chemicals in their cosmetic and personal care products.”
Pallone requested the FDA investigate Claire's Stores and Justice Retail in a letter today to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.
“While asbestos appears to be the primary impurity in the Justice Retail and Claire's cosmetics, I am also gravely concerned about the risk that other cosmetic products may also be tainted with dangerous chemicals,” Pallone wrote to Gottlieb. “I urge FDA to thoroughly investigate the claims against Justice Retail and Claire's Stores, and to open a broader investigation into the presence of asbestos and other hazardous impurities in children's cosmetics.”
Federal agencies have repeatedly noted the risks that asbestos poses. The National Cancer Institute, for example, lists asbestos as a “known human carcinogen” which can cause scarring and inflammation of the lungs and is associated with mesothelioma and at least six other cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that children may be at greater risk of developing asbestos-related diseases after exposure to the contaminant.
Jon L. Gelman is nationally recognized as an author, lecturer and skilled trial attorney in the field of workers' compensation law and occupational/environmental disease litigation. Over a career spanning more than four decades, he has been involved in complex litigation involving thousands of clients challenging the mega-industries of asbestos, tobacco, lead paint and burn pits. He is the author of the 3-volume treatise entitled Workers' Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise of Modern Workers' Compensation Law (West-Thomson-Reuters).
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