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Mesothelioma Fears Reignited by New Asbestos Makeup Allegations

The American accessories chain Claire’s is in trouble again after Dutch health and safety authorities claim to have found mesothelioma-causing asbestos in makeup powder for teenage girls.

The news was reported today by Dutch news outlet DutchNews.nl.

According to the website, the ILT and NVWA (Dutch health and safety authorities) have ordered two types of makeup – a face power and a contouring powder – pulled from the shelves while an investigation is conducted.

The inspectors reportedly found 2% to 5% of asbestos, a known carcinogen and the primary cause of mesothelioma, in the face powder and 0.1% to 2% in the contouring powder.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has stated that no amount of asbestos exposure is without risk and Dutch authorities agreed.

A Troubling Link to Asbestos

Claire’s made headlines in the US late last year after a Rhode Island TV station broke the news that asbestos had also been found in children’s glitter makeup. The problem was uncovered by a woman who sent her child’s makeup kit away to an independent lab for testing.


The jewelry and accessories chain vigorously denied the asbestos allegations and claimed their own tests from four independent labs found no traces of asbestos.

According to Dutch News, the US Food and Drug Association assured Dutch authorities at the time that the products were safe. But health and safety inspectors in The Netherlands, where Claire’s operates 32 stores, were on alert.

Personal Care Products and Mesothelioma

Asbestos has been linked to malignant mesothelioma since as early as the 1950s. Throughout the 80s, and 90s, the use of asbestos, which was once prevalent in products from insulation to hairdryers to Christmas decor, was phased out by many developed countries.

Fifty-five countries, including The Netherlands, have now banned asbestos in an effort to minimize the risk of mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer with no known cure. The US has yet to ban asbestos.

The danger with having any amount of asbestos in powdered products is that  microscopic fibers can become airborne when a brush is swirled through the mixture and could be inhaled by the user.

Once asbestos fibers enter the body, it is nearly impossible for them to be expelled. The result is chronic inflammation and irritation at the cellular level that can result in pleural mesothelioma even decades after exposure.

Multiple studies have confirmed that the earlier in life a person is exposed to asbestos, the higher their lifetime risk of mesothelioma, making the presence of the toxin in products designed for young people especially concerning.

Asbestos in Powder

Unfortunately, Claire’s is not the only producer of personal care items to come under scrutiny for possible asbestos contamination.

In 2015, a California woman won a $13 million lawsuit against Colgate Palmolive, claiming that she developed mesothelioma after using the company’s talcum powder. Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has been sued twice by people who claim that it’s baby powder also contained trace amounts of asbestos.

Children’s clothing chain Justice recently recalled a range of shimmer powder products from its shelves, although the company claims the move is a precaution and not because of the presence of asbestos.

Despite the risks, there are no federal regulations in the US to prevent the presence of asbestos in talcum powder or cosmetics.


“Dutch inspectors find asbestos in powder sold by teenage make up group Claire’s”, March 28, 2018, DutchNews.nl

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