A recent investigation found traces of asbestos in makeup marketed to tweens at the popular retail store Justice. The investigation, launched by WTVD in Greensboro, North Carolina, found that the “Just Shine Shimmer Powder” contained asbestos fibers and other heavy metals.
If you need a refresher on Asbestos 101, it’s a mineral found in rocks and soil that was used by manufacturers for years because it’s resistant to heat and fire, chemicals, and electricity. Asbestos fibers are so tiny and easily separated when they’re handled, which makes them super easy to breathe in. Which is really dangerous even though it’s a natural mineral, because the fibers can build up in your lungs and cause a variety of serious health issues. Breathing in asbestos fibers over long periods of time increases the risk for diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma, according to the National Cancer Institute.
In other words, asbestos is hands-down not something that should be found in anything marketed toward kids.
WTVD partnered with the Scientific Analytical Institute in Greensboro, North Carolina for the investigation. Sean Fitzgerald, the institute’s director of research and analytical services, said asbestos was found within the talc in the makeup.
The Scientific Analytical Institute was testing several samples of makeup made for use by kids to see what might be in the makeup that isn’t found in the list of ingredients. Fitzgerald calls the findings for Justice’s Shimmer Powder “alarming.”
Fitzgerald says when it comes to this particular item, “I would treat it like a deadly poison, because it is.”
“In this powder designed for children, they could die an untimely death in their thirties or forties because of the exposure to asbestos in this product,” he explains. When asbestos is inhaled, it goes to the bottom of the lungs — and stays there. “Children should not be allowed to breathe it. If a 10-year-old inhaled this fiber today, when he’s 50 years old, it’s still there,” he cautions.
As far as how traces of asbestos got into the makeup? It’s all in how it’s made. “What we have here is a talc that was contaminated with asbestos that was used to manufacture a product unfortunately aimed at young children,” says Fitzgerald. “Talc is a mineral, but it also forms in the earth with other minerals and some of those minerals are asbestos,” he says.
Fitzgerald says it’s wasn’t the manufacturer’s intent, but that “they shouldn’t have been using that reserve,” meaning that reserve of talc, without testing it for the presence of asbestos.
Fortunately for consumers, Justice is taking action. “Justice is committed to the safety and integrity of our products,” the store said in a response to WTVD’s investigation. “Upon receiving the inquiry from WTVD, we immediately began an independent investigation. We cannot speculate regarding the matter until we have more information. Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, we have stopped the sale of this product while we investigate.”
Currently the “Just Shine Shimmer Powder” is no longer for sale on the Justice website, but has yet to be listed in their recall section.