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Claire’s says its makeup is asbestos-free, but law firm says otherwise

This is one of the nine cosmetic products that Claire’s pulled from its shelves after a lab found that some of Claire’s makeup tested positive for tremolite asbestos, which has been linked to cancer. Claire’s said its testing showed that its products are asbestos-free.
This is one of the nine cosmetic products that Claire’s pulled from its shelves after a lab found that some of Claire’s makeup tested positive for tremolite asbestos, which has been linked to cancer. Claire’s said its testing showed that its products are asbestos-free.

Two weeks after a Rhode Island law firm said lab tests found cancer-causing asbestos in girls’ fashion chain Claire’s makeup, Claire’s declared Thursday the lab tests it funded proves the makeup is asbestos-free.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the law firm and fashion chain impugned the other’s honesty.

Claire’s said it’ll still honor returns from customers feeling uneasy about any of the nine products it pulled off shelves in reaction to a Dec. 22 news report by Providence's NBC10. The report said Rhode Island mother and law firm operations director Kristi Warner sent some of her daughter’s makeup for testing and it tested positive for tremolite asbestos, which is linked to mesothelioma, a type of cancer.

Warner’s firm, The Deaton Law Firm, specializes in legal issues surrounding mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases, according to its website.

“In some of our cases, that has included cosmetic products,” Warner wrote in a Wednesday email to the Miami Herald. “Without my work experience, I don’t think it would have ever crossed my mind that my daughter’s play makeup could have asbestos in it. It was important to me that other parents be aware of the hazard.”

The firm said it collected 17 samples of Claire’s makeup from nine states and sent them to North Carolina’s Scientific Analytical Institute for testing. Sean Fitzgerald, SAI’s director of research and legal services, told the TV reporters that all of the samples tested positive for tremolite asbestos.

Warner said Claire’s clean claims mislead because the company didn’t test any of the 17 samples, and didn’t ask for them. Claire’s asked for the test results and the law firm provided them, Warner said.

“Seems difficult to dispute the findings without testing the same samples,” Warner’s email read.

On Thursday, Claire sent an email disputing Fitzgerald’s “findings and testing methods” and referring to the Deaton Law Firm as a “personal injury law firm.”

“We only learned of the claims after they went to the press,” Claire’s statement read. “We have made multiple requests for Mr. Fitzgerald’s detailed test data, but it has not been provided to us. Mr. Fitzgerald also went to the press in July with claims that testing of cosmetics from Justice [another girls’ fashion retailer] showed evidence of asbestos, which Justice refuted after analysis of a third-party testing lab.”

Actually, Raleigh, North Carolina, station ABC11’s report says reporters took several samples of kids’ makeup to SAI an hour away in Greensboro. Their curiosity: What’s in the makeup that’s not among the listed ingredients? One answer from Fitzgerald: tremolite asbestos in Justice’s Just Shine Shimmer Powder.

Justice told the station it would pull the product until it could find out what’s what. Like Claire’s, it said independent testing showed no asbestos.

Claire’s said, “We are pleased to report that test results received to date from two certified independent labs confirm that the products in question are asbestos free, completely safe and meet all government requirements. As we said previously, we also confirmed that the talc ingredient that is used in the cosmetics was sourced from Merck KGaA and is asbestos free. Any report that suggests that the products are not safe is totally false.

“We have shared with Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the certificates of analysis provided by Merck, and plan to share with those agencies the results of the testing being conducted by the independent labs.”

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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