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Asbestos Contamination Found in More Claire's Cosmetics: New FDA Report

Health + Wellness
A Claire's store in Waterbury, Connecticut. Mike Mozart / CC BY 2.0

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found more asbestos in make-up sold at Claire's, an accessory store geared towards young teenagers.


The store voluntarily recalled its Claire's JoJo Siwa Makeup Set after FDA testing turned up traces of the cancer-causing material, the agency announced Thursday. Beauty Plus Global also recalled its Beauty Plus Global Contour Effects Palette 2 for the same reason.

"Claire's Stores, Inc. has voluntarily recalled the JoJo Cosmetic Kit out of an abundance of caution after testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration indicated the possible presence of trace amounts of asbestos fibers in the powder eyeshadow element of the kit," a company spokesperson told TODAY Style.

The FDA gave the full product details of both cosmetics and urged anyone who owned them to stop using them. They are:

  1. Beauty Plus Global Contour Effects Palette 2, Batch No. S1603002/PD-C1179
  2. Claire's JoJo Siwa Makeup Set, SKU #888711136337, Batch/Lot No. S180109

The news comes three months after the FDA warned customers to avoid three Claire's products that had also tested positive for asbestos. The alarm was first raised about the company's make-up in 2017, when a Rhode Island mother had her daughter's make-up kit tested for asbestos. The results prompted the store to recall 17 products.

Personal care products can become contaminated with asbestos because the mineral occurs next to talc, a common cosmetics ingredient. Asbestos can end up mixed in with the talc if the talc is not mined carefully. A similar problem occurred with Johnson & Johnson's talcum baby-powder, something the company knew about and covered up for decades.

In its statement to Today Style, Clarie's said its products were safe and that it had taken steps to avoid future contamination.

"Claire's stands behind the safety of this item and all other Claire's cosmetic items, as such small trace amounts are considered acceptable under European and Canadian cosmetic safety regulations," a spokesperson told Today Style. "In addition, last year Claire's moved to talc-free cosmetic manufacturing to prevent any further concerns about talc contamination. Claire's also supports increased FDA oversight of personal care products. We will provide a full refund to any customers who purchased the product."

The incidents have prompted lawmakers to call for better labeling for cosmetic products. After the March discovery of asbestos in Clarie's make-up, Michigan Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell and Illinois Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky introduced legislation requiring that all make-up marketed to children come with a warning if it had not been tested for asbestos, Michigan Advance reported.

"Asbestos in children's cosmetics is simply unacceptable. It is so basic we shouldn't need legislation to ban it but we do," Dingell said in a Friday statement reported by Michigan Advance. "Yet again, retailers like Claire's and Beauty Plus are removing products from their shelves after asbestos was found in their cosmetics. This so despicable; all of us need to be outraged. Congress must pass strong legislation so all cosmetics – especially cosmetics marketed toward children – contain proper warning labels alerting people of dangerous toxins."

The law governing FDA oversight of cosmetics has not been updated since 1938, and does not require that the agency test cosmetics before they are sold to customers. Democratic California Senator Dianne Feinstein and Republican Maine Senator Susan Collins have introduced the Personal Care Product Safety Act to strengthen the FDA's regulation of cosmetics and empower it to recall make-up products that it considers unsafe.

Asbestos itself is not fully banned in the U.S. The most recent regulation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires companies to get EPA approval before manufacturing or importing asbestos for any of 15 discontinued uses as well as any new use. Public health advocates have warned that the rule could actually open the door to more future uses of the material that kills between 12,000 and 39,275 Americans a year.

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Protestors marched outside the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Monday, August 26, during the MTV Video and Music Awards to bring attention to the water crisis currently gripping the city. Karla Ann Cote / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Will Sarni

It is far too easy to view scarcity and poor quality of water as issues solely affecting emerging economies. While the images of women and children fetching water in Africa and a lack of access to water in India are deeply disturbing, this is not the complete picture.

The city of Flint, Michigan, where dangerous levels of pollutants contaminated the municipal water supply, is a case in point — as is, more recently, the city of Newark, New Jersey.

The Past is No Longer a Guide to the Future

We get ever closer to "day zeros" — the point at when municipal water supplies are switched off — and tragedies such as Flint. These are not isolated stories. Instead they are becoming routine, and the public sector and civil society are scrambling to address them. We are seeing "day zeros" in South Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere, and we are now detecting lead contamination in drinking water in cities across the U.S.

"Day zero" is the result of water planning by looking in the rear-view mirror. The past is no longer a guide to the future; water demand has outstripped supplies because we are tied to business-as-usual planning practices and water prices, and this goes hand-in-hand with the inability of the public sector to factor the impacts of climate change into long-term water planning. Lead in drinking water is the result of lead pipe service lines that have not been replaced and in many cases only recently identified by utilities, governments and customers. An estimated 22 million people in the US are potentially using lead water service lines. This aging infrastructure won't repair or replace itself.

One of the most troubling aspects of the global water crisis is that those least able to afford access to water are also the ones who pay a disproportionately high percentage of their income for it. A report by WaterAid revealed that a standard water bill in developed countries is as little as 0.1 percent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage, while in a country like Madagascar a person reliant on a tanker truck for their water supply would spend as much as 45 percent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply. In Mozambique, families relying on black-market vendors will spend up to 100 times as much on water as those reached by government-subsidized water supplies.

Finally, we need to understand that the discussion of a projected gap between supply and demand is misleading. There is no gap, only poor choices around allocation. The wealthy will have access to water, and the poor will pay more for water of questionable quality. From Flint residents using bottled water and paying high water utility rates, to the poor in South Africa waiting in line for their allocation of water — inequity is everywhere.

Water Inequity Requires Global Action — Now.

These troubling scenarios beg the obvious question: What to do? We do know that ongoing reports on the 'water crisis' are not going to catalyze action to address water scarcity, poor quality, access and affordability. Ensuring the human right to water feels distant at times.

We need to mobilize an ecosystem of stakeholders to be fully engaged in developing and scaling solutions. The public sector, private sector, NGOs, entrepreneurs, investors, academics and civil society must all be engaged in solving water scarcity and quality problems. Each stakeholder brings unique skills, scale and speed of impact (for example, entrepreneurs are fast but lack scale, while conversely the public sector is slow but has scale).

We also urgently need to change how we talk about water. We consistently talk about droughts happening across the globe — but what we are really dealing with is an overallocation of water due to business-as-usual practices and the impacts of climate change.

We need to democratize access to water data and actionable information. Imagine providing anyone with a smartphone the ability to know, on a real-time basis, the quality of their drinking water and actions to secure safe water. Putting this information in the hands of civil society instead or solely relying on centralized regulatory agencies and utilities will change public policies.

Will Sarni is the founder and CEO of Water Foundry.

Note: This post also appears on the World Economic Forum.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Circle of Blue.

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