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Asbestos prompts popular teen retailer to pull makeup from shelves

Justice, a well-known chain of retail stores aimed at teen and preteen girls, found itself in the news recently. The reports weren't because of a new product rollout or a nationwide sale: the store made news because tests revealed some of its makeup products contained asbestos and traces of heavy metals.

One product in particular, a cheek blusher called "Just Shine Shimmer Powder," was independently tested by a news organization in North Carolina to see if it contained any non-listed ingredients.

Lab testing revealed asbestos in the powder, as well as the presence of four heavy metals: barium, chromium, selenium and lead. Each of those metals can be immediately toxic in even relatively small doses, causing various effects ranging from gastrointestinal distress to developmental delays and muscle weakness to cardiac arrest.

If the dose from the metals is small enough to be non-fatal, many of these issues may resolve relatively quickly. Lead, however, can linger in the body and cause issues for years to come.

With asbestos, the inhalation of even small amounts of asbestos fibers can lead to the development of asbestosis, mesothelioma or asbestos lung cancer decades down the road. Depending on how much of these products they were exposed to, adolescents who used them could potentially be facing a devastating diagnosis in the future.

How could asbestos be in teen makeup?

The now-recalled products contain talc, and it is quite possible that the talc used was tainted with asbestos. Asbestos-containing talc has been outlawed for cosmetic use in the U.S. for years. It is presumed that this makeup must have been made with a tainted batch of talc that was not tested since the Food and Drug Administration banned it.

The Just Shine brand of cosmetics has only been on the market (exclusive to Justice stores and its website) for a few years, so the potential long-term impact of any asbestos-contaminated products it sold is unknown. There is also no information available at this time about how long the asbestos was in the products before testing was done. The last widespread FDA testing for asbestos in makeup products was back in 2009 and 2010.

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