Remember when you were a kid and you were afraid to go to sleep at night because you were sure, just sure, that within that cavernous space under your bed lurked a hideous monster lusting to make you a tasty mid evening treat just as soon as you escaped to sleepy-bye land? Or that those creaky noises you heard in the hallway outside your bedroom were the spectral footsteps of long-dead former denizens biding their time until they could suck the life out of your quivering pajama-clad body?
Then you grew up. And realized that there was nothing lurking under your bed except perhaps some dust balls and a few misplaced Barbies or G.I. Joes and that those footsteps outside your room were simply the noises of a house settling as the night air cooled. You came to realize all that because your rational faculties were developing. In other words, you were coming out of the Dark Ages that is childhood and into the Enlightenment of adulthood.
Funny thing, though, many adults still hold onto their myths and their hysterias as tightly and closed mindedly as they did when they were children. And our media, government, and so-called consumer advocate groups just love to feed that hysteria. The result being that behind every dark skinned fellow airplane passenger there lurks a bomb-toting terrorist, behind every block headed-dog, a child chomping beast, etc., etc., into infinity and beyond.
This is the latest frenzy:
For years, an organization called the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has made it their job to ferret out the chemical boogie men lurking within our lotions, eyeliners, and lipsticks. Their latest findings? Unsafe amounts of lead in our lipsticks. Not all of them, mind you, just 33. They don't know about the rest because you know what? They admit they simply cannot test them all.
So how safe is unsafe? Well, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' report uses as their baseline, and I shit you not, the amount of lead found in candy. That's because in order to keep the kiddies (and junkies like Moi) safe, the FDA has placed an allowable limit of lead in candy at .01 ppm. More than half (61 percent) of these 33 lipsticks tested contained detectable levels of lead, with levels ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million.
But then the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics goes on to state that in their professional opinion, NO AMOUNT of lead in any quantity is safe. So, uh, that would mean NO AMOUNT of candy is safe either, right? The report doesn't touch that with a ten foot pole.
Reading all this led Moi to ask the following:
1. The report's assumption of danger relies on the assumption that women ingest lipstick like it were candy. Which simply isn't true. I mean, yuck! I'm willing to bet that your average child is exposed to more lead during this upcoming holiday than I'm ever likely to be exposed to via my lipstick, despite a lifelong, die hard devotion to its use. And, again, no one's suggesting we reformulate candy . . .
2. Further, the report's assumption of danger relies on the assumption that lead molecules are small enough to penetrate the layers of our skin with regularity. Which simply isn't true. Otherwise, we'd all be long dead and gone from the way higher amounts of lead we're exposed to on a daily basis when we touch a myriad other lead-laden substances.
3. It would seem to me (Pirate?) that we're exposed to more lead by working in our offices and sleeping in our homes, hell, even walking outside or drinking municipal tap water. So wouldn't it behoove us to regularly test our paint, soil, and drinking water? Oh, yeah, we DO.
4. Why didn't the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics do a really real scientific study? I.e. take blood samples from x number of women who have regularly worn lipstick for, say, the past ten years and blood samples from the same x number of those who have not? Then test both groups' blood for lead, and, voila, compare the differences? Perhaps it's because such a test most likely wouldn't show a statistically significant difference between the two groups.
Bottom line question? Why is a consumer advocacy group pedaling misinformation? Is it deliberate? Or is it simply bad science?
The clue lies within their very own Web site:
Personal care products like shampoo, conditioner, after shave, lotion and makeup are not regulated by the FDA or any other government agency. It is perfectly legal and very common for companies to use ingredients that are known or suspected to be carcinogens, mutagens or reproductive toxins in the their products. (Not true. the FDA does not regulate what a cosmetic company can claim about their product. But they do set limits as to what is safe to put in them. In fact, there is a very effective sunscreen that has been used in Europe for years that the FDA has yet to approve for use here in this country.)
We are asking cosmetics and personal care products companies to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics (also known as the Compact for the Global Production of Safer Health and Beauty Products), a pledge to remove toxic chemicals and replace them with safer alternatives in every market they serve. (What are these alternatives? By whom are they manufactured? The site doesn't specify. And if you're thinking, no, not more chemicals, the advocacy groups wants us to use natural products, well, natural doesn't necessarily mean safe. Poison ivy is natural, but I don't want it in my moisturizer. And safer according to whom? The FDA? Again, the site doesn't specify.)Ah, here's the clincher: The Campaign works with endorsing organizations and individuals so that together we can ramp up the pressure on companies that have not signed the Compact and continue to sell us toxic products, including Estee Lauder, L’Oreal, Avon and many others. Our founding organizations also work closely with other allies to reform the chemical policies that allow for toxic ingredients in consumer products in the first place.
Sigh. It seems that behind every motive, and no matter which side of the Party Line it falls, lies one thing and one thing only: $$$.