A program of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

Carbon Black

Carbon Black

Carbon black is a dark black powder used as a pigment in cosmetics such as eyeliner, mascara and lipstick.[1] It is produced by incomplete combustion of carbon-based products such as coal tar,[2] and has been linked to increased incidence of cancer and negative effects on organs.[3]

WHAT IS CARBON BLACK?

Carbon black is the product of incomplete combustion of carbon-containing materials.[6]

Commercial carbon black, in particular, has organic contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which have been identified as human carcinogens.[7] PAHs damage DNA,[8] and exposure to PAHs can lead to tumors on lungs, bladder and skin; and PAHs can also cause non-cancer toxicities like reproductive and developmental toxicity.[9] PAHs bind tightly to the surface of carbon black and can only be removed with the use of solvents such as toluene at high temperatures.[10] People can be exposed to carbon black through inhalation, skin or eye contact, and food and beverages.[11][12]

Found In

  • Eyeliner
  • Mascara
  • Nail polish
  • Eye shadow
  • Brush-on-brow
  • Lipstick
  • Blushers
  • Rouge
  • Makeup
  • Foundation

What to look for on the label

  • Carbon black
  • D & C Black No. 2
  • Acetylene black
  • Channel black
  • Furnace black
  • Lamp black
  • Thermal black

Health Concerns

Cancer: California EPA’s Proposition 65 list identifies carbon black (airborne, unbound particles of respirable size) as a carcinogen.[13] The International Agency for research on cancer classifies carbon black as a possible human carcinogen.[14] Experimental studies in female rats found increased incidence of lung tumors in rats that inhaled carbon black.[15] NIOSH raises concerns about lymphatic cancer among workers exposed to carbon black, largely due to the presence of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in carbon black.[16] Furthermore, carbon black containing PAHs may lead to skin cancer.[17] Long-term exposure to carbon black can lead pulmonary inflammation, fibrosis and lung tumors in rats.[18]

Organ System Toxicity: Several human studies indicate carbon black exposure may increase the risk of lung disease.[19] Carbon black exposure is a possible concern for workers, particularly exposures to the respiratory system and eyes when it is in powder form.[20] Early research suggests carbon black may increase the incidence of cardiovascular disease.[21]

Vulnerable Populations

Regulations

Restricted in cosmetics in United States[4] and EU.[5]

 

How to Avoid?

Read labels and avoid cosmetics and personal care products containing carbon black, D & C Black No. 2, acetylene black, channel black, furnace black, lamp black, and thermal black.

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References

[1] Federal Register Final Rule- 69 FR 44927 July 28, 2001: Listing of Color Additives Subject to Certification; D & C Black No.2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available online: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/06/07/2018-12218/listing-of-color-additives-subject-to-certification-dandc-black-no-4. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[2] International Carbon Black Association. Available online: http://www.carbon-black.org/. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[3] Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Carbon Black. Available online: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/chemical/carblack.htm. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[4] Federal Register Final Rule- 69 FR 44927 July 28, 2001: Listing of Color Additives Subject to Certification; D & C Black No.2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available online: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/06/07/2018-12218/listing-of-color-additives-subject-to-certification-dandc-black-no-4. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[5] Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products. Available online: https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/endocrine_disruptors/docs/cosmetic_1223_2009_regulation_en.pdf. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[6] International Carbon Black Association. Available online: http://www.carbon-black.org/. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[7] National Toxicology Program. Report on Carcinogens, Twelfth Edition. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. Available online: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21822324/. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[8] National Toxicity Program (NTP). Available online: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/dntp/index.cfm. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[9] National Toxicity Program (NTP). Available online: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/research/atniehs/dntp/index.cfm. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[10] Weinand F., Statement regarding the presence of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Carbon Black. Evonik Industries, 2009.

[11] NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. Carbon black.Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0102.html. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[12] Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Carbon Black. Available online: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/chemical/carblack.htm. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[13] Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity. Available online: https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/crnr/chemicals-listed-known-state-cause-cancer-or-reproductive-toxicity. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[14] IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Carbon Black evaluation and rationale. vol. 93, pp 190-1.

[15] IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Carbon Black evaluation and rationale. vol. 93, pp 190-1.

[16] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available online. July 14th.

[17] U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Occupational safety and health guideline for carbon black potential human carcinogen. Available online: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/ghd053107.html. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[18] Ramanakumar A., et al. Risk of lung cancer following exposure to carbon black, titanium dioxide and talc: Results from two case-control studies in Montreal. Int. J. Cancer, vol. 122, pp 183-189, 2008.

[19] IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans. Carbon Black evaluation and rationale. vol. 93, pp 190-1.

[20] NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. Carbon black. Available online: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0102.html. Accessed April 26, 2022.

[21] Kim H., et al. The impact of intratracheally instilled carbon black on the cardiovascular system of rats: evaluation of blood homocysteine and hyperactivity of platelets. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A: Current Issues, vol. 75, no. 24, pp 1471-83.

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