Saturday, May 30, 2009

Lead on your lips

Lead in lipstick. This article mentions a couple of brands that do (and do not) contain detectable amounts of lead. For a list of lead-free lipsticks, click here.

Lipstick is hardly the only offender in the cosmetics world. Click here to check other kinds of makeup, including mascara. Some manufacturers add mercury to mascara and other kinds of eye makeup. Minnesota banned these products last year.

It's so exhausting keeping up with all the hidden toxins in products that we put in and on our bodies, but what choice do we have? Because it's unlikely that learning or behavioral problems, or even eventual cancers, would ever be definitively traced back to a specific company's plastic bottle, or to a specific company's BPA-lined alunimum can, or to a specific brand of cosmetics (and that's due in large part that there are so many sources of exposure to these toxins), there's little chance that these companies are ever going to face any kind of financial penalty for cutting costs by using cheap, dangerous chemicals in their products.

"Sure, it makes people sick or causes learning disabilities, but it does it so gradually that it's extremely unlikely that the cause of the problem would ever be traced back to us." That's what's called an acceptable level of risk. When corporations talk about an acceptable level of risk, they're talking about the likelihood of having to pay huge sums of precious, precious money in fines and punitive damages. But when people talk about an acceptable level of risk, they're talking about their families' health.

Clearly we and they do not share the same primary concerns, so it is up to us to be vigilant, no matter how exhausting it can be to learn of a new risk in a product about which we previously were unconcerned. We can't afford to put our heads in the sand and give up. The only way to encourage companies to offer more healthful products is to vote with our wallets and stop buying products that pose health risks. For example, contrary to the commercial, Snapple didn't just recently discover sugar. It started making iced tea with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup for a very obvious reason: to make money. The company recognized a demand for products with less "shit" in them, and responded.

The sugared iced tea, by the way, is excellent.

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