Lead has been detected in over 400 popular lipsticks, according to a new FDA study. However, the agency disagrees with consumer activists on the danger posed by the findings.
The highest level found was 7.19 parts per million in Maybelline Color Sensation lipstick. Federal regulations cap children’s products with a 100 parts per million limit. The comparison is relevant because lead levels in cosmetics are unregulated. The FDA claims that the levels found in lipstick are safe, posing no health concerns. But the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a consumer activist group, disagrees. The group argues that no level of lead is safe and stated that lead can build up in the body over time, making even a small amount of regular exposure hazardous.
The group is imploring the FDA to set manufacturing standards limiting the amount of lead and chemicals in cosmetics. Without such regulations, the Campaign argues, manufacturers may use any chemical in any amount. Furthermore, the Center for Disease Control states that no amount of lead exposure is safe for children. The agency has asked companies to remove lead from their products so that pregnant women and children are prevented from exposure. However, without an official law or regulation, manufacturers are free to disregard the request.
Price level appeared to have no effect on led contamination. The lipstick with the lowest lead levels, Wet & Wild Mega Mixers Lip Balm, was also the least expensive.
For more on the study’s results, visit ABC News.
Hyundai is petitioning the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to cancel the agency’s recall of 2011-2012 Sonata Hybrids. The vehicles were recalled due to a seat belt design flaw; currently, the belts do not conform to federal motor vehicle safety standards. Nearly 15,000 Sonatas are affected by the recall.
Hyundai has agreed to replace the seat belts in over 1600 cars currently for sale at nationwide dealerships. However, the manufacturer opposes replacing belts in cars that have already been sold, claiming the issue is “inconsequential.” As such, Hyundai is petitioning NHTSA to reconsider the recall. If the petition is unsuccessful, Hyundai will have to begin notifying drivers about the recall and replacement options.
In the meantime, Sonata drivers can sign up to be notified of any updates. Visit NHTSA’s recall notification website to fill in your vehicle and contact information.
HP has agreed to pay a $425,000 civil penalty to resolve allegations that it failed to report a product defect to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The agency charged that, through October 2008, HP continued to sell laptops it knew contained defective lithium-ion battery packs. The packs overheated and, in some cases, caught fire. At least one consumer was hospitalized with injuries.
Federal law requires that manufacturers immediately report known product defects to CPSC. The agency alleged that, by September 2007, HP knew of 22 incidents with the battery pack, as well as the injuries to the hospitalized consumer. Despite this knowledge, CPSC said, HP failed to report the defect. The company continued to sell laptops containing the battery packs and also sold the packs individually. According to CPSC, by the time HP reported the issue in July 2008, the company was aware of at least 31 incidents involving the battery packs. Finally, in October 2008, HP and CPSC announced a joint recall of 32,000 packs.
Although it has agreed to pay the penalty, HP denies that the packs pose an unreasonable risk of death or injury. The company also denies violating the law. For more on this case, visit the CPSC website.
Johnson & Johnson has issued a recall of 574,000 bottles of Infants’ Tylenol, citing problems with the product’s dosing system. The medication is supposed to be administered orally using a syringe. The company has received complaints that a flow restrictor at the top of the bottle was being pushed into the bottle when inserting the syringe.” A problem with the flow restrictor makes it difficult for parents and caregivers to administer the proper dosage to infants.
No injuries from excessive doses have been reported from the design flaw; however, a number of complaints from parents prompted the company to issue the voluntary recall. Consumers may continue to use the the product if the flow restrictor remains in place at the top of the bottle.
For more information on the recall, visit Tylenol.com.
Toys R Us is currently holding a “Great Trade-In” event that encourages consumers to help remove unsafe products from the market. From now until February 20, 2012, parents and caregivers can trade in old or dangerous products in exchange for 25% off new items from the same product categories.
According to a Toys R Us press release,
stores will accept any used cribs, car seats, bassinets, strollers, travel systems, play yards, high chairs, kids’ beds, swings, walkers, bouncers and entertainers in exchange for a 25% savings on the purchase of a new baby item, in any of these product categories, from select manufacturers.
The program was first introduced in August 2009. Since then, over 600,000 potentially unsafe toys have been traded in for safer replacements. The company noted that a Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) analysis found that one in seven injuries from children’s products involved products that had been recalled. Furthermore, most of the injuries occurred after the recalls. The Great Trade In draws attention to products that have been recalled but remain in circulation, and gives consumers an incentive to remove these products from the marketplace for good.
For more information on the event, including a list of participating manufacturers, read the press release or visit www.toysrus.com.
Click On Detroit is reporting that “U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBPO) from the Port of Detroit targeted and seized a container of rag dolls and transformable cars after a lab analysis found that the toys contained high levels of lead and small parts that presented a choking hazard.” The seizure was a joint effort with investigators from the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
The shipment of toys originated in China. After it arrived in Newark, NJ, CPSC selected it for testing. Customs and Border Protection held the toys in Detroit and sent samples to CPSC for chemical analysis. The toys were found to be too dangerous for the American market.
Under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, importers are required to test and certify that imports of children’s products comply with CPSC requirements. CBPO must enforce the regulations as products come into the country. Effective enforcement of the Act can prevent harmful products from entering the country, protect children from injury and death, and prevent the need for later recalls.
Area Port Director Roderick Blanchard praised the operation. “American children and the public at large deserve to have toys that are safe and free from harm,” he stated. ”This is an excellent example of cross agency cooperation that resulted in keeping dangerous products off the market.”
A new study has found that certain chemical compounds may prevent childhood vaccinations from working properly. The compounds can lead to lower immune responses to vaccinations, putting children at risk of catching a disease they have already been vaccinated against. In some cases, children lost the vaccines’ protections by age seven.
Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are commonly uses in products ranging from nonstick pan coatings to microwave popcorn bags. They break down slowly, persisting for years in the environment. Scientists were already aware that high concentrations of PFCs were toxic for mice’s immune systems and bloodstreams. But until recently, a parallel in humans had not been studied.
A team of Harvard researchers investigated whether PFC exposure would interfere with children’s antibody responses to tetanus and diphtheria vaccines. They chose a group of children living in the Faroe Islands, because previous studies revealed that who frequently eat seafood may have increased exposure to PFCs. The study concluded that, the higher the PFC levels in the children’s blood, the lower their response to vaccinations. When PFC exposure doubled, blood antibody levels dropped by 49% at age seven. Indeed, CBS reports that “a doubling of a child’s PFC levels corresponded with a child being two to four times more likely to have an immune response considered too low to be clinically effective.”
The study’s author, Dr. Philippe Grandjean, stated that he and the other researchers “were kind of shocked when we saw those numbers . . . . This is the first study to say that by [exposing children to PFCs], we are screwing up a major aspect of disease prevention in our society. I’ve been in the field for quite a while, and this is a very strong signal.” Dr. Grandjean added that he doesn’t “feel comfortable with the compounds for myself and my family and would rather eliminate them.”
Eliminating exposure may be easier said than done. In addition to microwave popcorn bags and nonstick coatings, PFCs are also found in furniture, clothing, cars, and carpeting that have been treated with stain repellants, as well as lubricants used in skis and snowboards.
Further research is needed to understand how PFCs collect in our bodies and what effect they may have on other vaccines. But one thing is clear: greater efforts should be made to keep harmful chemicals out of the natural environment.
Wal-Mart has pulled Enfamil Newborn formula from its shelves after one Missouri newborn died and another became ill. Each baby had consumed the formula, and both tested positive for an environmental bacteria named Cronobacter that can cause serious injury and death. Currently, investigators are not sure if the formula caused the death and illness. According to Business Week, regulators are testing the formula, the water used to prepare it, and the clothes the children wore.
No recall has been issued for the formula. However, until tests are completed, officials are urging consumers to discard or return the formula. Furthermore, Wal-Mart is allowing its customers to return or exchange the product. If tests come back negative, the product will likely be returned to the shelves.
Illness from Cronobacter is rare, affecting just two or three infants per year. Nevertheless, Wal-Mart should be applauded for exercising an abundance of caution and preventing other infants from ingesting what could be a contaminated product.
Regardless of the tests’ eventual results, public health officials are reminding parents to take a few crucial steps when feeding babies powdered formula:
- Clean and sterilize all glassware and bottles with soap and hot water.
- Always wash hands before preparing formula.
- Boil and cool water before adding it to formula.
- Prepare only enough formula for one feeding. If there is extra, it should immediately be refrigerated and used within 24 hours.
The Senate is considering a bill that would raise fines for automobile manufacturers who delay recalls of defective or dangerous vehicles. If the bill passes, maximum fines will increase from $17.35 million to $250 million. Unsurprisingly, national auto groups are opposing the measure.
Democratic Senators Mark Pryor (Arkansas) and Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia) introduced the bill in late July. According to The Detroit News, ”[p]roponents have been pushing for more than a year to strengthen auto safety measures in the wake of sudden acceleration concerns in Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles.”
In a joint letter, automobile corporations called the proposed fines “unfairly punitive.” They are urging the Senate to decrease the amounts to “a more appropriate level.” The companies are also opposing a measure that would require a senior official at each auto company to certify the accuracy of its recall reports and require fines of $5,000 a day for submitting false, misleading, or incomplete information.
The proposed Motor Vehicle Safety Act contains a number of other components that would increase driver and passenger safety. For example, one Democrat-sponsored proposal would bar rental car companies from renting or selling vehicles that are under recall. Another part of the Act would prevent manufacturers from installing televisions within eyesight of drivers. The Act would also require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to “set standards for the placement of pedals to ensure that they are located to prevent them from getting stuck.” Auto groups oppose the the NHTSA requirement.
Automakers do support at least one provision: a proposed mandate requiring that all new vehicles include event data recorders. They are requesting that manufacturers be given “sufficient lead time to develop and implement this technology in their fleets.”
For over 40 years, manufacturers have used the chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) to line plastic food containers and metal food and beverage cans. However, recent studies have indicated that BPA exposure may disrupt the endocrine system and cause a series of health problems. In response, many companies have reformulated their products, proudly labeling reusable water bottles and food storage containers BPA-free. But not all manufacturers have raced to remove BPA. A recent study found that, after eating one can of soup per day for five days, BPA levels in test participants increased by over 1000%.
Further research is needed to fully determine the effects of BPA on humans. But existing studies have found that BPA can negatively impact “the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and children.” Furthermore, Time Magazine reports that “[a] growing number of studies also link BPA exposure to changes in liver and heart function, and to detrimental effects on insulin levels. In a study involving a U.S. government health database, for example, British researchers reported that people with the highest levels of BPA in their urine were twice as likely to have heart disease or diabetes as those with lower levels.”
The Harvard doctoral student who conducted the canned soup study admitted that she was surprised by the results, noting that “o]ther studies have quantified the amount of BPA in canned food itself, so we were expecting a modest association. But this is really big.” Moreover, although the study was limited to canned soup, the results are likely to apply to other canned foods and beverages.
For now, Health and Human Services is encouraging parents to limit infant exposure to BPA. To further this goal, HHS has released a number of steps parents can take to reduce exposure. The list can be viewed here. HHS has stated that a reduction in exposure is most important for young children, because “their bodies are early in development and have immature systems for detoxifying chemicals.” Additional studies are being conducted to determine the effects of BPA in adults and older children. Until more is known, HHS recommends that people in those age groups should “follow reasonable food preparation practices to reduce exposure to BPA.” These practices include buying plastic products labeled BPA-free and choosing fresh foods over canned goods whenever possible.