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From Products Liability Law Daily, October 20, 2015

Schumer challenges FDA to take stronger action against dangerous Halloween makeup and face paint

By John Dumoulin

Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) warned parents about the potential dangers of Halloween makeup and face paint, which he says can contain heavy metals like lead, nickel, cobalt, and chromium that could pose health risks to the children wearing them. These products are often made in China, according to Schumer’s press release, and the Senator is urging parents to be aware of where their children’s Halloween makeup is made. He has also written to the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agency to increase the enforcement of existing regulations regarding these products (Schumer Press Release, October 18, 2015).

Health effects. Schumer’s release cited a report conducted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics that found that 10 out of 10 face paints tested for heavy metals contained lead and six out of the 10 face paints that were tested contained nickel, cobalt, and/or chromium. The release also cited findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that there is no known safe blood level for lead in children and that “even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention and academic achievement.” According to the release, the CDC also warns that children under six are especially at risk because they are growing rapidly and often put things in their mouths, and that high levels of lead poisoning can be fatal.

Current regulations. Current packaging regulations require companies to list all the ingredients in their products, but according to Schumer, the FDA does not currently conduct routine testing of novelty cosmetic products or face paints. Lead is banned from makeup in Canada and Europe, but not from makeup sold in the United States.

Letter to FDA. Senator Schumer has written a letter to Acting FDA Commissioner Stephen Ostroff bringing to his attention the danger posed by novelty cosmetics and paints manufactured outside the United States and urging the agency to take immediate action against companies whose products contain hazardous chemicals. He also urged the FDA to “increase the enforcement of proper labeling of these products.”

Schumer described the health risks of these products, saying the CDC held that children are more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults and that “the World Health Organization found that even the smallest amount of lead in the blood can cause irreparable damage to a child’s developing brain.”

In the letter, Senator Schumer also said that many novelty paints “are not properly labeled, even when they contain color additives” and that the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits marketing “adulterated or misbranded cosmetics,” including those with color additives. Schumer urged the FDA “to use its existing authority and increase enforcement of products that are currently on the market that are mislabeled, misbranded or adulterated.”

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