High levels of lead found in play make-up
HIGH levels of lead and other metals have been found in some brands of children's play cosmetics, a new report has revealed.
Make-up sets containing lipsticks and eyeshadows are popular with young girls.
The findings are disclosed in the 2009 annual report of the HSE public analyst's laboratory in the western region, which, along with its Cork counterpart, is the national centre for cosmetic testing.
While the majority of the make-up samples tested were within safety recommendations, five had 500 times the limit for lead set by authorities here.
Lead exposure early in life can lead to hyperactivity, impulsive behaviour, IQ deficits, reduced school performance, aggression and delinquent symptoms.
It can also affect fertility, including increasing the risk of miscarriage and reducing sperm quality. Early-life lead exposure has been linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
The analysts also found an orange children's lipstick contained excessive levels of cadmium, another metal, it was revealed.
One of the cosmetic sets, 'Trendy Look', which was at the centre of a recall in April due to lead levels, had been on sale in the Euro2 stores.
A spokesman for Eurogeneral, which supplies the chain, said yesterday, however, the recall related to a purchase in 2009 and it was decided about 18 months ago to no longer sell children's cosmetics.
The lipstick was found to have higher-than-recommended lead levels after it was designated a cosmetic rather than a toy. The Irish Medicines Board (IMB), which has now taken over responsibility for the safety of cosmetics, said yesterday that they were not subject to an approval process prior to placing on the market.
"The manufacturer or importer is responsible for ensuring that the products are safe and compliant with legislative requirements," said a spokesperson.
She advised parents to only buy cosmetic products through reputable sources and said the IMB would advise anyone who experienced any undesirable effects to report them to the watchdog.
The concern about lead and other metals also extends to some products for adult women. Ireland has adopted, on an interim basis, the 20mg/kg lead limit of other European countries.
Lead compounds should not be present in cosmetics unless in traces that are technically unavoidable in manufacturing and not liable to cause damage to human health.
Of 946 cosmetics tested last year, 26 contained lead and three had cadmium levels above the recommended limit. Efforts are now under way to educate the cosmetics industry on its responsibility to market only safe products and official surveillance of the products has increased.
One of the concerns is that there are no laboratory staff dedicated to cosmetic analysis and the testing must be fitted in between other work.
"Given the current economic climate, the provision of additional laboratory resources for the purpose of cosmetic analysis is unlikely to occur in the near future," the report also warned.