Several months ago a mama commented on a post I wrote promoting Redmond Trading Company’s “Earthpaste”, saying that she had recently ordered some for her child, but was greatly disappointed when she saw the proposition 65 warning label on the tube saying it contained lead. She said she couldn’t let her child brush his teeth with a toothpaste containing lead and wanted to know why I would promote such a product.
This argument against bentonite clay toothpastes has been around for a while, and there are some pretty strong voices on both sides.
Today, I’d like to address this “lead in Earthpaste” topic, and let you all know why I still stand behind Earthpaste and bentonite clay as a healthy substance.
Understanding The Mineral, Lead
Lead is a mineral found deep in the earth’s crust, and it can be found in the air, water, and soil as well as common everyday things we’re exposed to. In the past, it’s been mostly used in things like paints, water pipes, batteries, gas, and cosmetics.
Did you know that many brands of lipstick still contain traces of lead (ElBoghdady, 2012)? It’s true! But here’s the thing… lead isn’t intentionally put in these cosmetics. It’s naturally occurring in the ingredients that are used to make the lipstick which is why it hasn’t been reported on the ingredient label in the past. This is important to understand, and we’ll talk more about it below.
Even though lead is naturally occurring in the earth and is useful in many convenient products we use these days, it’s still toxic to human and animal health. How toxic is it? Well, first it’s important to understand that lead can build up in the body over time (like most heavy metals) and that small amounts of exposure to lead don’t automatically lead to health problems. It’s the build up of it that lends itself to health issues.
None-the-less, it’s believed that there is no “safe” limit to lead in the body. The FDA has determined that consuming less than 75 micrograms of lead does not lead to health complications. (For pregnant women and children, that number is 25 micrograms.)
If you’re curious to know what your child’s lead level is you can request a lead screening at your doctor’s office.
Is It True?? There’s Lead In Bentonite Clay?
Now to the big question. Is there lead in bentonite clay and Earthpaste?
Simply put… yes. There are small amounts of lead in bentonite clay, Earthpaste’s primary ingredient. Small trace amounts of lead can be found in bentonite clay (all brands) as well as in many other varieties of clay.
Because lead is found in air, water, and soil, it can be found in ingredients that are mined from the earth as well as in many of the foods we eat.
Thankfully, US standards are much stricter than those of other countries and most times will contain lower levels of lead. If you’re worried about trace amounts of lead (and other chemicals) that are potentially found in your household and cosmetic products, you’ll need to source where their ingredients are coming. This also applies to the foods you eat. Many skincare ingredients and foods come from overseas from places that don’t have the same standards as America does. Unfortunately, researching ingredients and sources is a daunting task that most people do not do (Fioravanti, 2010).
From the research I’ve done on this topic, it seems nearly impossible to get away from trace amounts of lead (seeing how it seems to be in everything). Even the air we breathe contains particles of lead!
When it comes to lead being found in bentonite clay, its saving grace is this. While bentonite clay does contain small amounts of lead, it’s thankfully not bioavailable to the body… meaning that the lead doesn’t leach out of the clay and into the body. It’s already bound by the clay and held there. Redmond Clay, the makers of Earthpaste, have some great information on their site about lead.
Because lead is a natural occurring substance, one that we don’t get large amounts of from natural sources (unlike manufactured sources), it’s not enough for the FDA to ban it from products. If that were the case, many ingredients, foods, and water would need to be banned.
Below, you’ll find a great infographic from Redmond about this very issue.
How Bentonite Clay Works
So, speaking on behalf of bentonite clay, its internal use, and the fact that it contains trace amounts of lead, a known substance that is toxic to the body, we must first understand how bentonite clay works.
Bentonite clay has a negative electrical charge and is searching for things that have a positive charge… like lead. So even though it contains trace amounts of lead, it’s holding on tight to the lead, not letting it go in your or your child’s body (Cooper, 2009).
Dr. Josh Axe explains this concept in an easy to understand way in his 10 Proven Bentonite Clay Benefits & Uses post. He says,
“While bentonite clay naturally has negatively charged electrons intact, most toxins and heavy metals have positively charged electrons. This allows the two to bind together easily and stay united while the toxin removal process happens.
Bentonite clay essentially “seeks” toxins in the body to bind with because naturally any substance that has a missing ion (which gives it its “charge”) looks for oppositely charged types of substances that will make it complete. Upon binding, the clay is then able to help remove toxins, chemicals, impurities, and “heavy metals” from the gut, skin, and mouth that it is bound to.”
Bentonite clay has been used for hundreds of years internally. It’s also been heavily studied and tested and approved for internal use. In fact, it’s commonly used as a filler and binder in many manufactured drugs (not that I’m endorsing drugs here… I’m just trying to make a point). There have been reports of people using bentonite clay internally who had high levels of lead in blood tests that saw those numbers drop after taking bentonite clay internally for a period of time (Calcium Bentonite Clay FAQs, n.d.).
Still not convinced? Kate from Modern Alternative Mama wrote a great post called Is There Lead In Bentonite Clay. In her post, she cites several studies that have shown bentonite clay to absorb metals, including lead, rather than leaching lead out into the body.
Yes, there are small amounts of lead in bentonite clay, therefore in Earthpaste, but I’m not stressing about it.
When my kid swallows his toothpaste I can rest assured that those metals are bound tightly in the clay and not being released into his system. This is better than most of the foods he may be eating that contain small amounts of lead seeing as how there’s nothing in the food to bind the metals and allow them to pass through his body. In fact, from the studies I’m seeing on bentonite clay and the way the body responds to it when taken internally, I should be happy when my kid swallows his toothpaste every day as I know it is most likely attracting other heavy metals in his body to it and passing those out.
So what do you think? Does this concern you? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions, and research in the comments below.
California Proposition 65 Warning Label on Earthpaste. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://www.earthpaste.com/prop65/
- Cooper, T. (2009). Clay Minerals. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://www.swac.umn.edu/classes/soil2125/doc/s11ch1.htm
Calcium Bentonite Clay FAQs. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://earthslivingclay.com/frequently-asked-questions/
ElBoghdady, D. (2012, February 14). 400 Lipsticks Found To Contain Lead, FDA Says. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/400-lipstick-brands-contain-lead-fda-says/2012/02/14/gIQAhOyeDR_story.html
Fioravante, K. (2010, May 20). The Real Story On Lead In Cosmetics. Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://personalcaretruth.com/2010/05/the-real-story-on-lead-in-cosmetics/
- Is Lead Safe In Any Amount? (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://www.redmondtrading.com/prop65/is-lead-safe-any-amount/
Is There Lead In Lipstick? (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/transparency/basics/ucm194557.htm
Table of Common Ions. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://www.launc.tased.edu.au/online/sciences/PhysSci/pschem/ion/ion_tabl.htm
- Tietje, K. (2014, July 18). Is There Lead in Bentonite Clay? Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://www.modernalternativemama.com/2014/07/18/lead-bentonite-clay/