A national activist coalition that specialises in testing retailer products for harmful chemicals has found that in a recent investigation 3 out of the 15 cosmetics they had tested contained asbestos. All three of the products that tested positively were made and sold by Claire’s.
Claire’s is a retailer of jewellery and clothing that is marketed and made for young girls in their teens. It has thousands of shops open across the world and is popular in the both the US and UK. However, it has been having a bad few years. In 2017 it faced almost identical accusations by a different organisation but vehemently denied them, stating that they were categorically false. Now, faced with mounting debt it looks like the store is ready to announce bankruptcy. Just when the pressure is mounting, this latest accusation has come forward to make things worse.
Claire’s has released a statement saying, “We want to assure our customers that all of our products are safe and asbestos-free,” and denied the most recent allegations.
The contamination arises due to the use of talc which is a naturally occurring silicate used in many day-to-day cosmetics. However, the silicate material can also be a source of asbestos. The FDA insists that US retailers are thorough and impose harsh penalties on companies that use talc that is contaminated with asbestos.
“FDA considers it unacceptable for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos,” their website reads.
There is no acceptable amount of asbestos that can be found in talc as far as the FDA is concerned, so if the tests and their results can be replicated then it looks like Claire’s woes will suddenly get much, much worse.
Asbestos is a carcinogenic chemical that was once used to insulate homes and electrical wiring. It was used prominently across both residential and commercial properties for decades until scientists proved that it was a direct contributor to lung cancer. Since this discovery asbestos has been treated as a very dangerous chemical, and the FDA notes how concerning it is that it has appeared in products aimed towards children. If anyone inhaled the chemical there is a very real chance they could develop cancer as a result of the exposure.
Claire’s, however, has argued that the activist group has relied on out of date and obsolete tests and hit back at the allegations:
“Claire’s has conducted extensive testing and investigation in cooperation with relevant authorities, including the FDA, Health Canada, and a number of EU enforcement agencies to demonstrate that Claire’s products are asbestos-free and comply with all relevant safety regulations,” they wrote. “All our powder-based cosmetics use the same base formulation, utilizing Merck certified asbestos-free talc, which is the same talc used in other well-known cosmetic brands.”