A proposed class action claims certain Burt’s Bees cosmetic products contain undisclosed per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) known to be harmful to humans.
The 42-page lawsuit alleges The Clorox Company and the Burt’s Bees Products Company have advertised Burt’s Bees All Aflutter Mascara, Burt’s Bees Nourishing Mascara and Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer products, among others, as “consciously crafted with ingredients from nature,” “over 95% natural origin” and “Kind to Skin & Planet” without warning buyers that they contain PFAS. The case states that PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because of their resistance to being broken down by environmental conditions and have been linked to “a host of health effects,” including cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.
According to the suit, consumers have been misled by the defendants’ representations and failure to disclose on product packaging that their cosmetics contain PFAS.
“Defendants represent that the Products are safe and effective for their intended use, and reasonable consumers expect that cosmetic Products marketed and sold to be applied to a person’s face and skin, and especially near the eyes and on lips, will not contain dangerous, humanmade chemicals like PFAS,” the complaint says. “Contrary to Defendants’ representations, the Products are not safe because they contain PFAS, which have a negative impact on the health of humans.”
The lawsuit contends that consumers overpaid for the Burt’s Bees cosmetic products, which include but are not limited to those highlighted above, given the items are either “worthless or worth less than the purchase price” due to the parties’ alleged failure to disclose that the cosmetics are harmful to the health of humans and the environment.
The case relays that both Clorox, who purchased Burt’s Bees in late 2007, and the Burt’s Bees Products Company have spent years building a strong reputation of trust among consumers. Moreover, the Burt’s Bees website states that the company’s products are formulated without “phthalates, parabens, petrolatum, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and other chemicals of concern,” the suit stresses.
Independent testing of the Burt’s Bees All Aflutter Mascara, Nourishing Mascara and Lip Shimmer products, however, has shown that the items contain high levels of organic fluoride, a “marker for PFAS,” according to the complaint.
Per the case, a June 2021 study titled “Fluorinated Compounds in North American Cosmetics” found that a strikingly high number of cosmetic products contained high concentrations of fluoride, indicating PFAS were “likely present” in the items. Following the publication of that study, “green” product investigation organization Mamavation performed its own testing of cosmetic products marketed as environmentally sustainable, eco-friendly and made with natural ingredients. According to the suit, more than 30 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride was considered “high exposure” by Mamavation. Of the defendants’ products at issue, the All Aflutter Mascara and Nourishing Mascara were each found to contain 357 ppm of organic fluoride, while the Lip Shimmer was found to contain 36 ppm of organic fluoride, the case attests.
The lawsuit relays that exposure to PFAS through the skin, such as through the application of cosmetic products, is “very concerning” and could cause a buildup of PFAS in a person’s body over time that could have detrimental health effects. According to the suit, the danger of PFAS exposure is “well known” and can cause a variety of harms ranging from damage to a person’s immune system and reproductive health to several types of cancer.
The case claims those who purchased the Burt’s Bees products lost the benefit of their bargain as the items are “worthless” and “not fit for use by humans.”
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone in the U.S. who purchased Burt’s Bees cosmetics that contained PFAS, including the All Aflutter Mascara, Nourishing Mascara and Lip Shimmer products, within the applicable statute of limitations period.
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