Deborah Blum’s Poison Pen

Congratulations to Deborah Blum of Wired Science:

Deborah BlumAs readers of this blog know, I have an endless fascination—perhaps an overflowing fascination—with the chemicals, often poisonous, that are part of our everyday lives.

So I am happy to tell you that in addition to writing Elemental here at Wired, I will also be writing a monthly column on environmental chemistry at The New York Times.

The new column is called “Poison Pen” (which suits me perfectly!) and the first topic is metals in lipstick. You might be surprised to know that the latest research found nine different metals in lipstick, from lead to cadmium, aluminum to titanium.

And, yes, Poison Pen is up and running with that first story on lipstick is, indeed, up today:

A soft pink, a glowing red, even a cyanotic purple — millions of women and girls apply lipstick every day. And not just once: some style-conscious users touch up their color more than 20 times a day, according to a recent study. But are they also exposing themselves to toxic metals?

Most lipsticks contain at least a trace of lead, researchers have shown. But a new study finds a wide range of brands contain as many as eight other metals, from cadmium to aluminum. Now experts are raising questions about what happens if these metals are swallowed or otherwise absorbed on a daily basis.

“It matters because this is a chronic long-term issue, not a short-term exposure,” said Katharine Hammond, a professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California at Berkeley and the lead author of the new analysis. “We’re not saying that anyone needs to panic. We’re saying let’s not be complacent, that these are metals known to affect health.”

Go get ’em, Deborah!

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