HEALTH

Ministry of Health recalls toxic lipsticks for kids

Wednesday 15 December 2010, 5:05PM
By Ministry of Health
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he Ministry of Health has requested the voluntary recall of four brands of lipstick for children, which have been found to contain low levels of lead and barium.

Public Health Units throughout the country have been asked to request retailers to voluntarily withdraw K.K. Lipstick, Coral Colours Cosmetics, Ludy and Midie Lipstick from sale, effective immediately.

Although these products were found being sold in at least two discount stores and a community pharmacy, there is no information yet on how widely these lipsticks are distributed.

“This action is a precautionary measure,” Ministry of Health spokesperson Dr John Holmes said.

“These lipsticks contain low levels of toxic substances which should not be used in cosmetics at all. People who have purchased these products should immediately dispose of them or return them to the retailer.”

Although exposure to these metals at these low levels is unlikely to cause adverse health effects for most people, Dr Holmes acknowledged that “people may react differently to products they use.”

“Parents who have concerns should contact their general practitioner,” he advised.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs recently screened and tested children’s toys, jewellery, paints and cosmetics for metals. Subsequent tests found that the four brands of lipstick for children contained small amounts of lead and barium, and barely detectable levels of antimony, arsenic, cadmium and chromium. The Cosmetic Products Group Standard of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act prohibits the use of these metals in cosmetics.

Dr Holmes said he was pleased the Ministry of Consumer Affairs had expanded its testing of toys to include cosmetics targeted at children.

Regulation of hazardous substances, under the HSNO Act, is primarily the responsibility of ERMA New Zealand. The Ministry of Health is one of several agencies assigned enforcement roles under the HSNO Act, and it becomes involved if the public is exposed or has the potential to be exposed to risk.

 

Questions and Answers

1. What does a voluntary recall mean?

A voluntary recall involves asking retailers to remove the products from sale. No enforcement action is involved. However, the Ministry of Health may consider further action if a retailer refused to cooperate.

2. Why are these four brands of lipstick being recalled?

Tests commissioned by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs found that the four brands of lipstick contain low levels of lead and barium, and barely detectable levels of antimony, arsenic, cadmium and chromium. The Cosmetic Products Group Standard prohibits the use of these metals in cosmetics. [Schedule 4 of the Cosmetic Products Group Standard (www.ermanz.govt.nz)]

3. I’ve been buying these products for my child. What should I do?

Dispose of these products immediately or return them to the retailer. If you have concerns, you should contact your general practitioner.

4. My child has been using these products for almost a year now. Should I be worried?

The average amount of lead a child would be exposed to if they accidentally ingested a tube of this lipstick is equivalent to the amount they would get from drinking one liter of water that meets drinking-water standards.

On the other hand, the average amount of barium they would be exposed to if they accidentally ingested 3.6 g of lipstick is equivalent to the amount they would get from drinking 500 ml of safe drinking water.

Exposure to these metals at these low levels is unlikely to cause adverse health effects for most people. However, people may react differently to products they use. Parents who have concerns should contact their general practitioner.

5. I have seen these products sold in one of the shops. What should I do?

Contact the Public Health Unit in your area.