Asbestos fibers. Credit: Courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey

The eye shadow kit for children, “Princess Girl’s All-in-One Deluxe Makeup Palette,” is a talc-based makeup product. It includes a mirror, multicolor eye shadows, lip glosses, blushes — and more than 4 million asbestos fibers per gram of eye shadow.

In mid-January, the Environmental Working Group, a national nonprofit organization, issued an alert about this product, urging retailers, including, to “immediately pull these types of products from their websites.”

Asbestos exposure is the only proven cause of an aggressive cancer known as mesothelioma and has ties to several other chronic lung diseases as well. Since there is no safe level of asbestos exposure, anyone who may have come into contact with this product is at risk of illness.

Asbestos fibers are microscopic and almost always untraceable to the naked eye, leaving individuals vulnerable. Even small doses of this carcinogen can have detrimental effects, as the fibers embed themselves permanently in the body and create blanket tumors.

The harsh reality is that asbestos can have lethal health consequences that may not develop in children until their bodies are more mature. Because the inhalation of these fibers typically goes unnoticed, it’s difficult to pinpoint where initial exposure occurred after being diagnosed later in life.

This isn’t the first children’s product to be laced with this toxicant. Since the early 2000s, big name companies such as Claire’s and Johnson & Johnson have removed contaminated products from their stores and websites, respectively. Unfortunately, more often than not, companies refuse to take full responsibility of ensuring the safety of their consumers.

The eye shadow manufacturer, IQ Toys, removed the kit from its website, as did Amazon and eBay, shortly after the findings were made public. Yet, as of publication, the company has not released any statement or comment taking ownership for its part in exposing children and families to asbestos.

Talc-based products remain legal, meaning parents and consumers of all ages must seriously examine what is in the products they buy and take home to their families. Asbestos is known to occur naturally in talc mines, which presents the risk of contamination when talc is extracted. With hundreds of talc-based products on the market, asbestos could be tainting more items than we’re aware of.

A silver lining of this recent outbreak is that this issue is gaining national attention. U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, has introduced a bill that would require all cosmetics marketed to children be free of asbestos or otherwise have a warning label. The bill is titled the “Children’s Product Warning Label Act of 2019.”

Currently, certain commercial products can legally contain up to 1 percent asbestos, but representatives are pushing for a country-wide ban, as nearly 70 other nations have done.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regularly updates a list of children’s cosmetics recalled for various safety reasons. It can be viewed at

Bridget Rooney works for as an expert writer and advocates for a global ban on asbestos. This column was produced for the Progressive Media Project, which is run by The Progressive magazine, and distributed by Tribune News Service.