Lead Levels and Fertility

Written by: Dr. Eva Littman

If you are trying to conceive, maybe you should remove your lipstick before kissing your partner…

Recently the FDA found that there are more than 400 lipsticks on the market which exceed the acceptable lead levels for human consumption.
The FDA found the highest lead levels (measured in parts per million) are:

  1.  Maybelline Color Sensational, Pink Petal (7.9 ppm)
  2. L’Oreal Colour Riche, Volcanic, (7.0 ppm)
  3.  NARS Semi-Matte, Red Lizard (4.93 ppm)
  4.  Cover Girl Queen Collection, Ruby Remix, (4.92 ppm)
  5.  Nars Semi-Matte, Funny Face (4.89 ppm)
  6.  L’Oreal Colour Riche, Tickled Pink (4.45 ppm)
  7.  L’Oreal Intensely Moisturizing Lipcolor, Heroic (4.41 ppm)
  8.  Cover Girl Continuous Color, Warm Brick (4.28 ppm)
  9.  Maybelline Color Sensational, Mauve Me (4.23 ppm)
  10.  Stargazer Lipstick, #103 (4.12 ppm)

Of note, California has imposed a safety limit of 5.0ppm for lipstick.  There are other environmental origins for lead exposure that you should be aware of.  Lead can leach into foods and beverages stored in lead‐glazed ceramics, lead‐containing‐glass decanters, and metal alloy containers in which lead is a minor component, and pass by ingestion into the body. Past use of lead‐containing ‘self‐cleaning’ exterior house paint, lead chromate metal primer, fungicides and lead flashing on roofs and chimneys has contaminated soils near human dwellings.  Agricultural soil contamination may be responsible for lead found in many herbal medicines and cigarettes. Inhalation of lead particulates from combustion of petroleum products, vehicles and homes, and lead‐contaminated coal‐fired power plant fly ash also contribute to environmental lead exposures.
As far as the impact of lead on fertility, most studies have found that lead exposure affects male fertility.  It is thought that lead exposure could be a leading cause of unexplained male infertility.  Evidence has been found that even low levels of lead exposure can cause damage to sperm.  Studies have shown that lead may affect the sperm’s ability to bind to the egg properly or stimulate the reaction necessary to penetrate the zona or shell of the egg.  Higher lead levels have been associated with increased tobacco and alcohol use.  Also, decreased exercise, low calcium levels and a diet high in fat content can cause lead levels in the body to increase and accumulate over time.
Lead has also been shown to have detrimental effects during pregnancy.  High blood lead levels can affect the developing brain of a fetus and cause serious developmental problems.
Therefore, one should be very cautious of possible avenues which can introduce toxic lead exposure into your body such as widely marketed lipsticks.  For more information on lipsticks and lead, please visit www.ewg.org. This is a wonderful site which not only contains information on this topic but this site also has information on other environmental contaminants which affect fertility.

Dr. Eva Littman About Dr. Eva Littman

Dr. Eva Littman is one of the Las Vegas Valley’s most trusted, knowledgeable and honored fertility experts. She is the Founder and Practice Director of Red Rock Fertility Center.

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