Seek­ing to ban lead in air dyes

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Alert -

The US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion on Tues­day said that hair dyes can no longer con­tain lead. The new rule does not take ef­fect for 12 months, but it ends the only re­main­ing le­gal use of lead, a neu­ro­toxin, in cos­metic prod­ucts in the United States. “In the nearly 40 years since lead ac­etate was ini­tially ap­proved as a colour ad­di­tive, our un­der­stand­ing of the haz­ards of lead ex­po­sure has evolved sig­nif­i­cantly,” FDA Com­mis­sioner Dr Scott Got­tlieb ex­plained in an agency news re­lease.

“We now know that the ap­proved use of lead ac­etate in adult hair dyes no longer meets our safety stan­dard,” he added. “Lead ex­po­sure can have se­ri­ous ad­verse ef­fects on hu­man health, in­clud­ing for chil­dren, who may be par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble. More­over, there are al­ter­na­tive colour ad­di­tives for hair colour­ing prod­ucts that con­sumers can use that do not con­tain lead as an in­gre­di­ent.”

For the most part, the hair dyes that now con­tain lead ac­etate, such as Gre­cian For­mula, are used to darken grey hair, ac­cord­ing to the En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fence Fund (EDF). Along with new sci­en­tific data, the FDA’s de­ci­sion was prompted by a pe­ti­tion op­pos­ing the use of lead as a colour ad­di­tive. “In the last sev­eral decades, we’ve seen tremen­dous progress in re­duc­ing ex­po­sure to lead from ma­jor sources. Given this progress and wide recog­ni­tion that there is no safe level of ex­po­sure, it may seem un­be­liev­able that com­mon hair dyes con­tain the neu­ro­toxin – putting those who use the prod­uct and their chil­dren at risk,” said Tom Nelt­ner, chem­i­cals pol­icy di­rec­tor at the EDF, one of the groups in­volved in fil­ing the pe­ti­tion.

“(The) FDA’s de­ci­sion is an im­por­tant step to pro­tect­ing peo­ple from a con­tin­ued source of ex­po­sure to lead that is a more sig­nif­i­cant route than the agency orig­i­nally thought over three decades ago,” Nelt­ner said. Now, there is no safe level of lead ex­po­sure, ac­cord­ing to the US Cen­tres for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

Com­pa­nies have 12 months to re­for­mu­late hair dye prod­ucts that con­tain lead ac­etate. Con­sumers who want to avoid us­ing these prod­ucts dur­ing that time can check to see if lead ac­etate is listed as an in­gre­di­ent or there is a warn­ing la­bel that states, in part: “For ex­ter­nal use only. Keep this prod­uct out of chil­dren’s reach,” ac­cord­ing to the FDA. Some hair colour­ing prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ers have al­ready started us­ing an­other colour ad­di­tive that does not con­tain lead as an in­gre­di­ent, the FDA added.

Lead ex­po­sure can have se­ri­ous ad­verse ef­fects on hu­man health, in­clud­ing for chil­dren, who may be par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble.

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