Lead in Imported Makeup

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Home => Product Alerts => Lead in Some Imported Makeup

Lead in Some Imported Makeup

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New York City Health Department warned New Yorkers that certain imported eye cosmetics contain high levels of lead and should not be used.

Even though the New York City Health Department only warned New Yorkers, because the tested eye cosmetics were bought at local stores throughout New York City, these cosmetics may be present elsewhere in local stores near you and around the world.

This warning came after the Health Department investigated five lead poisoning cases among children and pregnant women who used these cosmetics. They can cause lead poisoning when accidentally ingested. Children are at special risk because they may put their hands in their mouths after touching these cosmetics.

These products, which are called "kohl", "kajal" and "surma", are imported from Asia, Africa and the Middle East and often do not have a list of ingredients on the package, officials said. It is not possible to tell whether these are dangerous or not because lead is not listed as an ingredient on the label.

The New York City Health Department tested different "kohl", "kajal" and "surma" products purchased at neighborhood stores throughout New York City. Most of the sampled products had lead concentrations exceeding the federal recommended limit of 10 parts per million (ppm) for lead in certain cosmetic additives.

The following products were found to contain excessive levels of lead:

Hashmi Surma Special
Made in Pakistan, 47% lead (468,708 ppm)

"Pure Kohl from the Waters of ZamZam"
Manufacturer information not listed, 36% lead (362,419 ppm)

Hashmi Kohl Aswad
Made in Pakistan, contains 27% lead (272,353 ppm)

Hashmi Kajal
Made in Pakistan, contains 4% lead (41,298 ppm)

These products come in many varieties, any of which may contain lead. These products are banned by the FDA and have been imported illegally. "The products generally bear limited English language labeling. They are frequently imported in personal baggage and are being sold in stores that specialize in Middle Eastern commodities" - stated FDA in their Import Alert #53-15.

"We urge New Yorkers not to use any products that contain lead," said Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas R. Frieden. "Lead is poisonous and can cause serious health problems, especially for children and pregnant women. If you are using these products, stop using them immediately and call a doctor to request a blood lead test."

The sale of toxic personal products is prohibited under New York City Health Code. The Health Department is working with distributors and storeowners to remove these products from their shelves.

The Health Department has ordered distributors and storeowners selling "kohl", "kajal" or "surma" products to:

-- Immediately stop selling the products.
-- Remove them from shelves and inventory stockrooms.
-- Package and return the products to the distributors.
-- Dispose of products as required by law...
-- Post a warning sign advising customers to stop using these products.

The Health Department advises people who may have obtained and used these products to:

-- Immediately stop using these products.
-- Call a physician to request a blood-leaaad test.
-- Keep products away from children.

For more information on these products you can visit the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website.

Also, you can view the FDA's Import Alert regarding these products at their website.


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Lead in Imported Makeup