Kids love cheap mall stores like Justice, especially the sparkly makeup near the cash registers. Normally that should be totally fine. The worst thing that can happen when a tween plays with makeup is that she looks a bit silly, right? But now scientists found asbestos in a highlighter compact sold by the popular tween clothing store Justice.

According to an investigative report from ABC 11, scientists analyzed the “Just Shine Shimmer Powder” compact and found asbestos fibers. It also contained heavy metals barium, chromium, selenium, and lead.

Heavy metals and asbestos.

Asbestos is a mineral that is easy for people to breathe in. It’s dangerous because it has tiny fibers that separate easily, and when inhaled it can build up in the lungs. It has been linked to serious illnesses including lung cancer and mesothelioma.

This is terrible news for the paranoid parents of the world, of which I am one. Justice is popular with girls and young tweens. Researchers say these minerals are dangerous for adults, and more dangerous for kids.

“In this powder designed for children, they could die an untimely death in their 30s or 40s because of the exposure to asbestos in this product,” said Sean Fitzgerald. He’s the Director of Research and Analytical Services at Scientific Analytical Institute in Greensboro, which analyzed the Justice compact.

“Fibers like this get into your breathing zone, and when you inhale, these fibers can get into the lung and go to the very bottom of the lung, and that is exactly where you have the greatest likelihood of asbestos to cause disease,” Fitzgerald said. “Children should not be allowed to breathe it. If a 10-year-old inhaled this fiber today, when he’s 50 years old, it’s still there.”

Fitzgerald also said the lead in the makeup can be absorbed through the skin.

“I would treat it like a deadly poison, because it is,” Fitzgerald said of the compact.

How’d it get there?

The makeup contains talc, which is probably how the asbestos got there. Asbestos contamination can happen to talc naturally, but Fitzgerald says the talc should have been tested for asbestos before being used in any kind of cosmetic.

The Just Shine Shimmer Powder compact has been taken down from the Justice website, but it has not been officially recalled. The researchers said the other Justice products they tested did not test positive for asbestos.

7/21 UPDATE: The company has issued a statement regarding the findings of potential asbestos in their Just Shine Shimmer Powder:

“A third party ISO-certified testing lab concluded there is no asbestos in our Just Shine Shimmer Powder product. Reports suggesting that the product contains asbestos are simply inaccurate.

As part of our investigation and out of abundance of caution we found it necessary to quickly provide answers to our customers about our product (Item number 192307, or SKU number 19052777).

Customers with any questions are encouraged to call our customer service associates at 1-866-246-5822 or email us at info@justiceretail.com.”

(H/T Cosmopolitan; Image: WTVD)