Parents warned of lead in some face paints

Thu, Oct 20, 2011, 01:00

PARENTS HAVE been urged to check the ingredients of face paints in the run-up to Halloween after the discovery of high levels of lead in some brands of children’s cosmetics in recent years.

Recent findings suggest that, while the prevalence of lead-containing face paints is declining, exposure to lead remains a credible risk, which can result in hyperactivity and impulsive or aggressive behaviour.

The Irish Medicines Board is advising parents to buy from reputable sources and to check the country of origin of the product. Historically, children’s cosmetics manufactured in China are at most risk for lead contamination. The absence of an EU address on a product may be an indicator that the product has been imported from outside the EU and does not meet European requirements for safety assessment.

The absence of lead or lead-related compounds (lead oxide for example) from the ingredient list does not necessarily mean that the product is free from lead, the board pointed out.

Lorraine Nolan, its cosmetics compliance manager, said there had been a drop in the number of products testing positive for lead due to increased surveillance.

“However, the presence of lead is still a health concern for children,” she said.

“Lead is one of the most studied metals in terms of its health effects and exposure in early life should be avoided according to international health officials. Experts agree that no exposure to lead is safe; while no undesirable effects from using face paints have been recorded in Ireland to date, exposure is unnecessary and avoidable.”

Parents are asked to report any concerns they may have about particular products to environmental health officers in the HSE or to the board directly.