DURHAM, North Carolina - UPDATE: Justice has now issued a national response to an ABC11 investigation into asbestos in children's makeup.
ORIGINAL REPORT: A national chain is taking swift action after an I-Team Troubleshooter Investigation. The makeup in question is "Just Shine Shimmer Powder" sold at Justice Stores, a clothing store for girls and tweens.
Our investigation began when we had several samples of makeup specifically made for kids and teens tested to see what's in the makeup that's not listed as an ingredient. Scientific Analytical Institute in Greensboro tested the products for ABC11.
Sean Fitzgerald, the Director of Research and Analytical Services at the lab said the results for the "Just Shine Shimmer Powder" were alarming.
Not only did his lab find four heavy metals in the makeup, asbestos was also found in the "Just Shine Shimmer Powder." When it comes to the powder, Fitzgerald added, "I would treat it like a deadly poison, because it is."
Dangers of Asbestos
Asbestos is dangerous for anyone to consume, but especially young children.
"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," Fitzgerald said.
These are pictures of the tremolite asbestos fibers Fitzgerald says his lab found throughout the "Just Shine Shimmer Powder."
Laboratory pictures of the tremolite asbestos
"Fibers like this get into your breathing zone, and when you inhale, these fibers can get into the lung and go to the very bottom of the lung and that is exactly where you have the greatest likelihood of asbestos to cause disease," Fitzgerald said.
Disease such as cancer. Fitzgerald added that the potential effects of inhaling asbestos don't show up right away.
"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 explained.
How asbestos collects in the lungs
So, how does asbestos even get into makeup?
"What we have here is a talc that was contaminated with asbestos that was used to manufacture a product unfortunately aimed at young children," Fitzgerald said.
Talc is a common ingredient you'll find in a lot of makeup.
"Talc is a mineral, but it also forms in the earth with other minerals and some of those minerals are asbestos," Fitzgerald said.
The Food and Drug Administration considers it unacceptable for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos. In 2009 and 2010, the agency did test samples of talc from four suppliers along with 34 makeup samples and found no asbestos fibers in any of the samples tested.
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"The problem is, it's not necessarily the manufacturer, there was no intent to put this in the talc, but they shouldn't have been using that reserve, because they should've tested it and known that that talc source was contaminated with asbestos," Fitzgerald said.
Besides asbestos, Scientific Analytical Institute also found the heavy metals Barium, Chromium, Lead, and Selenium in the "Just Shine Shimmer Powder."
"The more lead you have in your system, the more negative health effects you're going to have. Any amount of lead can be absorbed through the skin and go into your blood, and contribute to your overall poisoning of your blood," Fitzgerald said.
We did test seven other makeup products, including "Just Shine Baked Blush" and "Just Shine Shimmer Bronzing Powder," and none of those products tested positive for asbestos.
I provided Justice with the results from Scientific Analytical Institute. In a statement the company issued this statement: "Justice is committed to the safety and integrity of our products. 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."
The company also posted a statement on their Facebook page following ABC11's report.
As a parent, the best advice is to read the ingredients listed on the product. You can also find products that are talc free. The only real way to see whether asbestos is in makeup is through testing. There are websites you can use, such as http://www.ewg.org/, which verifies products that are toxic free and safe to use in your home. On this site you can search for different types of makeup, food sources, and household cleaning products and see how what you are using rates on the EWG scale of low, medium, or high hazard.
This is not the first time that toxins have been found in children's makeup. In 2016, The Breast Cancer Fund along with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested children's cosmetics. To learn more about the study that the Breast Cancer Fund conducted in October 2016 you can visit: http://www.safecosmetics.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Pretty-Scary_2016.pdf
On July 19th, "Justice" issued the following statement to ABC11:
"A third party ISO-certified testing lab concluded there is no asbestos in our Just Shine Shimmer Powder product. Reports suggesting that the product contains asbestos are simply inaccurate. As part of our investigation and out of abundance of caution we found it necessary to quickly provide answers to our customers about our product (Item number 192307, or SKU number 19052777). Customers with any questions are encouraged to call our customer service associates at 1-866-246-5822 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org."