Originally posted/discussed in April of 2014
Most important point / revision (from 2017) to note: As far as I can tell, based on my research to date – the Cooper 2009 study frequently referenced by Earthpaste and other manufacturers, as well as by fans and enthusiasts of bentonite clay use does not exist.
And any similarly dated or named study that might mention the lead is “not absorbable” and/or “bound to the clay” does not exist. If you have evidence of this study (original link or publication) please share it with me. I have contacted Cooper himself (through the educational institution where he works) and researched his work thoroughly and found no such study.
As far as I can tell, the following claim stems from no verifiable factual source [in other words, it is an “alternative” fact ;-)]:
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).
This “quote” (or similar claim) can be found in this form or similar on the following sites (sites which should be avoided when looking for answers about Lead – as they obviously do not do their research and are commenting on things they have no bona fide understanding/knowledge of) as well as others:
Yes, Earthpaste Toothpaste DOES have lead.
The manufacturer has a prop 65 warning on the label (required by law) that states it contains lead AND I personally tested the main ingredient (the bentonite clay from this brand) with an XRF instrument and found it to have lead in quantities consistent with the company’s statements. Please read the comments on this blog post for more details.
This is not “just a CYA label” on the package… the product actually contains an unsafe level of Lead.
Dedicated to mamas Jessica in San Francisco and Amy in Portland, Oregon.
There is absolutely no “safe level” of lead for ingestion. Toothpaste should be treated like food, with the same regulatory parameters and testing guidelines.
From the “Earthpaste” site (April 8, 2014):
“Like many natural foods (including peaches and pears) Redmond Clay contains the tiniest amount of naturally-occurring lead. There is a natural products exemption to prop 65 (otherwise organic green beans and carrots would be 20 times over the limit!) but because of the way proposition 65 is enforced, it would be impossible for a small company like ours to withstand the cost of any “false positives” from aggressive prop 65 law firms.”
And from the Amazon ad (pictured here – click for larger view):
- “For Kids of All Ages” &
- “Safe to Swallow.”(!)
To my knowledge, while spinach and leafy greens (and other ground-grown calcium rich plant foods) these days may contain lead, “peaches and pears” today do not contain any lead! They are tree fruit, and as such off of the ground—and away from any soil that may contain lead from previous/historic leaded pesticide use.
An image I posted on Facebook in December 2013 of the Earthpaste package, to which one of my followers posted this awesome comment:
Esther Wong wrote: “Lead is natural……. But so are poison ivy, rattle snakes and tornadoes!”*
And the specific warning on this package? “This product may not be appropriate for consumption by children or pregnant women.”
In December of 2013, when I contacted Earthpaste to ask how much lead was in the product, I was informed that Earthpaste had tested their product and it has approximately 11.9 parts per million lead in the clay that that is the base of (and largest ingredient in) the product. [see this PDF from Redmond with their analysis: RedmondClay_MineralAnalysis]
The current Federal standard for the amount of lead that is considered toxic in water is 15 parts per billion! The American Academy of Pediatrics considers water toxic at ONE (1.0) parts per billion! With 11.9 parts per million—Earthpaste has THREE ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE more lead – way above what is considered safe for something children might ingest daily (especially given it is recommended that kids brush their teeth daily – and at least twice a day.)
I’m sorry, but it’s pretty hard to write in a “professionally calm and neutral tone ” about something like this – it’s a good thing I have an amazing editor (my husband – Leonard Rubin) to tone down my upset!
*Lead is naturally found VERY deep down in the earth (lead mines can be 3,000+ feet below sea level); it was not “natural” in the human environment at all prior to the development of deep mining and metallurgical refinement through smelting. Then, with the industrial revolution (1760 to 1820) it invaded our atmosphere in a much bigger way, polluting the air we breathe and the plants we eat. Along with lead’s introduction into our atmosphere and our daily lives came the widespread disease, misery and death from human exposure to this incredibly potent neurotoxin—leaving long lasting impacts today – more than 100 years later.