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Claire's says its makeup has no asbestos. Law firm still disagrees

Claire's says its makeup has no asbestos. Law firm still disagrees
Claire's sent nine products — including its Bedazzled Rainbow Heart and Rainbow Bedazzled Star makeup sets and its Pink Glitter Palette with Eyeshadow and Lip Gloss — to labs for testing. (Claire's)

Two weeks after a law firm said lab tests found cancer-causing asbestos in makeup from Claire's, the girls cosmetics and accessories retailer said lab tests it funded proves that the makeup is asbestos-free.

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

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The Deaton Law Firm specializes in legal issues surrounding mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases.

"In some of our cases, that has included cosmetic products," Warner wrote in an email. "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, the institute'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 claims that its makeup is free of asbestos are misleading because Claire's 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 said.

Claire's 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 said. "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 retailer] showed evidence of asbestos, which Justice refuted after analysis of a third-party testing lab."

Actually, it seems that in the Justice case, the news media went to Fitzgerald instead of vice versa. A report by Raleigh, N.C., station WTVD-TV said reporters took several samples of children's makeup to the Scientific Analytical Institute. Their question: What's in the makeup that's not among the listed ingredients? Fitzgerald told them he found tremolite asbestos in Justice's Just Shine Shimmer Powder.

Justice told the station it would pull the product until it could find out more. It later said independent testing showed no asbestos.

Neal writes for the Miami Herald/McClatchy.

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