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Lead in children’s lipgloss

April 15, 2013

One child’s parents found a surprising source of their daughters lead poisoning:

Lead poisoning is most common in kids under age six, and can have serious health consequences from learning disabilities to death.

Kids are typically exposed to high lead levels if they live in an older home with lead based paint, or suck on toys with lead paint. But one eastern Iowa family’s learning lead lurks in other places, too.

Brooklyn Schneiderman just turned six. She’s a happy little girl. But just a few months ago, Brooklyn had a health scare when a routine screening showed her lead levels at nearly double the acceptable amount.

At first, her parents couldn’t figure out what was causing it.

“They reminded us to look at what her favorite toy was, or what she played with the most,” said Brooklyn’s mother, Jennifer Schneiderman. “So that was easy then. It was lip gloss. She’d sit in front of her mirror for long periods of time and apply lip gloss.”

The sparkly, pink glosses look like a perfect play item. But when Jennifer Schneiderman suspected the glosses might be spiking Brooklyn’s lead levels, she a took a closer look only to find many of them had labels with words like “caution” and “keep out of children’s reach.”

It baffled her, since the products are clearly marketed to little girls.

The glosses were of several different brands, mostly made in China.

“They have princesses on them,” Schneiderman said. “So I don’t know what adults would be interested in these products.”

After taking away Brooklyn’s lip gloss, and nothing else, her lead levels dropped to barely traceable.

Luckily, Brooklyn didn’t have any health problems, and Dr. Kelly Schmidt knows it’s because the lead spike was caught early.

But he says this case is a reminder for families to keep a close eye on everything that’s in their homes that could lead to lead exposure.

“With children, it’s the dust in the home, the dust from the paint chips, the soil that could be out in your yard,” said Dr. Schmidt, Cedar Falls Primary Care. “It could be a problem with toys, like Brooklyn getting into some lip gloss that head lead in it when her parents got to looking. It’s just little things you don’t think about.”

Jennifer Schneiderman now reads labels of all the products she buys, and hopes Brooklyn’s story will encourage other parents to do the same.

“We don’t want any other little princesses hurt by their lip gloss,” Schneiderman said.

Lead poisoning is most common in children, but can happen in adults. Removing the source of lead, sometimes through costly home lead abatement, usually helps bring the body’s lead levels into the acceptable range.

If not, kelation therapy medicines can also be used.

To help with home lead screening, the Black Hawk County Health Department does conduct door-to-door home visits in target areas of the community. 

The city of Waterloo even offers programs to help families deal with lead paint problems. It’s available to homeowners with children under age 6, living in a house built before 1978.

Eligible families can get financial assistance to correct problems. To learn more, call (319) 291-4429.

You can also learn more about lead poisoning from the Iowa Department of Public Health at this link:

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