In light of the XRF test results of their products, this text on the company’s website is more than a little disturbing:
They actually even have a CYA warning (“disclaimer”) under the FAQ question [are your] “Products safe for kids?”, and “Products safe for pregnancy/breastfeeding?”). Frankly, stronger warnings should be front and center on their website – instead there is a picture of a child using their products as the primary image on the home page of the site (see the fourth image below). [And what does that language mean, anyway — that you “feel confident that the products are safe for pregnant women”?! Are you aware how little Lead it takes to impact a pregnancy?]
Sunday – June 19, 2022
I want to start by saying I hate this part of my job — I hate being right about my concerns/experience-backed expectation that testing certain specific products is going to wind up confirming a strongly-suspected toxicity! I HATE calling out other woman-owned small businesses (we’re supposed to band together and lift each other up, right?) Damn!
In this particular case however, I am also really shocked and, well — pissed off to find out that that this business (Primal Life) is owned by a REGISTERED NURSE! Think of the confidence that association is guaranteed to conjure up for most customers — the belief that the products are inherently safer/”healthy”! Unsuspecting customers with no knowledge of the toxicity of bentonite clay would never imagine that this product could possibly turn out to have unsafe levels of THREE toxic heavy metals– two carcinogens and one neurotoxin – Lead, Antimony and Cadmium! I really do want to know why a nurse is selling products with these heavy metals in them — at levels that are without a doubt considered unsafe for ingestion, unsafe for use in food, unsafe for internal use in the body!
Knowing that the owner of this company is a nurse, I have a LOT of questions:
- Shouldn’t she have done her homework about heavy metals?
- Is she using these products herself?
- Is she using these products with her own family?
- Has she gotten herself and her own children tested for heavy metals?
If not… she should have that testing done immediately; she should ask her doctor for a heavy metal panel (blood, hair, or urine), and she should examine the results of those tests to see if they include elevated levels for any of the metals listed below (again, especially concerning are the extraordinarily high levels of Antimony, Lead, and Cadmium found in this toothpaste product). If her family is high in one or more of these metals – I think she really needs to reconsider what she is doing for a living!
I have discussed the specific concerns for Lead (and other heavy metals) found in bentonite clay ad nauseam on this website — but I will go over some of the specific concerns here in this article one.more.time. <sigh>
But first – here are the exact test results from two full tests of the samples tested from the jar of the Dirty Mouth toothpaste pictured. This is product that was purchased directly from the company’s website on May 4, 2022. Per the video posted on TikTok and Instagram (below), the sample tested was taken direct from the sealed container and tested, using XRF technology. Note: test results noted below are listed in parts per billion (and not in parts per million), because food concentrations of heavy metals that are considered toxic are measured in parts per billion.
Here’s the video I posted tonight (along with the photos that are in this article).
View this post on Instagram
Section #1) XRF test results for the the Primal Life Dirty Mouth Toothpowder pictured here. For an interpretation and explanation of this information, please continue reading below the results.
Reading #1) 180 seconds (3-minutes)
- Lead (Pb): 7,000 +/- 3,000 parts per billion (ppb)
- Cadmium (Cd): 15,000 +/- 2,000 ppb
- Mercury (Hg): non-detect
- Bromine (Br): 2,000 +/- 1,000 ppb
- Iron (Fe): 8,271,000 +/- 147,000 ppb
- Zinc (Zn): 52,000 +/- 6,000 ppb
- Titanium (Ti): 687,000 +/- 422,000 ppb
- Indium (In): 18,000 +/- 3,000 ppb
- Tin (Sn): 9,000 +/- 3,000 ppb
- Antimony (Sb): 14,000 +/- 5,000 ppb
- Platinum (Pt): 40,000 +/- 12,000 ppb
- Bismuth (Bi): 11,000 +/- 3,000 ppb
- No other metals detected in consumer goods mode.
Reading #2) 180 seconds (3-minutes)
Same Sample – different area in scope of instrument
- Lead (Pb): 5,000 +/- 3,000 parts per billion (ppb)
- Cadmium (Cd): 18,000 +/- 2,000 ppb
- Mercury (Hg): non-detect
- Bromine (Br): 3,000 +/- 1,000 ppb
- Iron (Fe): 9,378,000 +/- 161,000 ppb
- Zinc (Zn): 57,000 +/- 7,000 ppb
- Titanium (Ti): 794,000 +/- 428,000 ppb
- Niobium (Nb): 243,000 +/- 8,000 ppb
- Indium (In): 18,000 +/- 3,000 ppb
- Tin (Sn): 10,000 +/- 4,000 ppb
- Antimony (Sb): 17,000 +/- 5,000 ppb
- Platinum (Pt): 35,000 +/- 12,000 ppb
- Bismuth (Bi): 10,000 +/- 3,000 ppb
- No other metals detected in consumer goods mode.
Section #2) Interpretation of the results reported above – Cadmium Considerations
I copied most of this section directly from my article about The Dirt toothpaste, as all of the considerations are the same
- CADMIUM: Cadmium is an undisputed carcinogen (stated more simply, Cadmium causes cancer).
- I discuss Cadmium toxicity in food at length in this article – link.
- For context: the European standard for the amount of Cadmium allowable in chocolate — a quantitatively comparable exposure source (comparable to toothpaste) because chocolate is ostensibly eaten infrequently, and in small amounts — ranges from 100 to 800 parts per billion, depending on the type of chocolate (details below.)
- So if chocolate [specifically, dark chocolate that is 50% cocoa or higher] tests positive for more than 800 parts per billion Cadmium, it is considered unsafe / toxic — and illegal in Europe.
- With that background, it is absolutely shocking to have learned that this tooth powder tests positive for 18 ppm (parts per million) Cadmium.
- This is the equivalent of eighteen thousand (18,000) parts per billion Cadmium!
- This tooth powder tests positive for a known carcinogen at levels that are 2,200% (22 x) the (European) allowable limits for dark chocolate.
Cadmium content: A good candidate for a voluntary recall?
It is for this reason (after testing this product and determining the XRF test results for toxic metals), it is my educated opinion that this product should be recalled. It is unlikely that it will be recalled, though — because we specifically do not have toxicity limits for toothpaste in the United States, and thus these levels are not illegal! — but it still should be recalled.
If this company were a responsible company, they would initiate a voluntary recall. Because the company seems demonstrably focused on selling bentonite clay products — and a voluntary recall of their contaminated bentonite clay products would likely decimate them financially, I anticipate they will do nothing in response to learning of these findings (although – if they are not familiar with the work of Lead Safe Mama, LLC, they will possibly send me a “cease and desist” letter from their legal team (asking me to “take down” the publication of these findings).)
The text below is the Cadmium section from another article on this website that I felt was relevant to re-share here, as well.
First some relevant links
For context: acceptable levels of Cadmium in chocolate (European Standards)
As one possible data set for comparison – I did find the following information from Europe about allowable Cadmium Limits in chocolate (link here):
- Less than 30% chocolate: Maximum of 100 ppb Cadmium allowed
- 30% to 50% chocolate: Maximum of 300 ppb Cadmium allowed
- Cocoa Powder: Maximum of 600 ppb Cadmium allowed
- Greater than 50% chocolate: Maximum of 800 ppb Cadmium allowed
Please continue reading below the graphic
(which is from this European report – link)
For additional context: acceptable levels of Cadmium in crab meat (European Standards)
I also found another (perhaps more relevant) bit of information from Europe… in this summary they look at Cadmium in crab meat and are calling 80 ppb an acceptable level, but warning that the “brown meat” in the body of the crab has as much as 8,000 ppb (8 ppm) and this is an unacceptable and dangerous amount of Cadmium.
Section #3) Interpretation of the results reported above – Antimony Considerations
I also copied this section directly from my article about The Dirt toothpaste, as all of the considerations are the same
ANTIMONY: 17 ppm Antimony was found in this tooth cleaning powder. 17 ppm (parts per million) is equal to 17,000 parts per billion.
In the context of any products containing heavy metals – and specifically products intended to go your mouth (like food, water, supplements, etc.) – toxicity is measured at levels of 1-100 parts per billion (per the limits for Cadmium noted above) — NOT at the 3-orders-of-magnitude-higher level of parts per million.
Understood from that perspective, this is a staggering amount of Antimony to find in a toothpaste.
Antimony was added to the official list of known carcinogens in December of 2021 (link with details here) and while I am not aware of any official limits (as I write this) for Antimony in food / supplements / beverages (items you may ingest) yet, I believe that is only because Antimony has not been well-studied to date, and there is no regulatory inquiry (no inquiry into setting regulatory limits for Antimony in food or other ingestible substances)… YET.
Please correct me if I am somehow wrong on this explanation (send links to any studies you know of!)
Since I don’t have science to link to to argue this point, I will not be focusing on this concern (which is however, obviously not insignificant) Here’s a screenshot of / link to one relevant reference consistent with my understanding:
Section #4) Interpretation of the results reported above – Lead Considerations
As we discussed above, when we talk about finding unsafe levels of toxicants (and specifically heavy metals) in food products, we are generally looking at levels in the range of 5 to 100 parts per billion as the typical threshold range for being considered toxic in food and beverages.
- The AAP recommendation is that water in drinking fountains in schools not be greater than 1 ppb Lead.
- Bottled water over 5 ppb Lead is considered unsafe (& illegal).
- 50 ppb Lead is considered the maximum allowable level of Lead in fruit juice.
- Candy that might be consumed by children is considered toxic and illegal if Lead levels are in excess of 100 ppb Lead.
- Dried fruit is also not legally allowed to have more than 100 ppb Lead.
[Again, there are 1,000 parts per billion in 1 part per million.] The range of detection for an XRF instrument is only as low as single-digit parts per million, so it is very rare for a food product (or supplement or personal care product) to test positive for toxicants using XRF technology.
So when something that is a main component of a product you put in your mouth (and that might be accidentally ingested by children when used as intended – like toothpaste) is positive for a toxicant in a detectable level of parts per million (using XRF technology or other testing methodologies) this is a very alarming result — and a product that goes into your mouth with that high a level of detectable heavy metals should not be considered safe to use.
As noted above, this tooth powder tested positive for 7,000 parts per billion Lead. There is now universal consensus among scientists (and informed medical professionals) that there is no safe level of Lead exposure for humans — especially for children and for pregnant women. You can read more about the potential impact of even trace / low level Lead exposure on negative birth outcomes in this article.
Section #5) What should consumers who have been using this product do?
- Stop using this product immediately.
- Set the product aside in a plastic baggie for later, find the receipt or purchase confirmation email and keep that with the product as well. [Ask for a refund, let the company know how you feel about learning this information.]
- Contact your doctor (especially if you and your children have been using this product daily) and explain that you have a suspected chronic / persistent (long-term – as long as you have been using this product) exposure to heavy metals and you would like to have a heavy metals panel test done if possible. [These can be done as a blood, urine or hair test – depending on your doctor – here’s an article that discusses that in more detail.]
- If you test positive for high levels of Lead, Antimony or Cadmium it is possible that this is from the use of the toothpaste. Follow up with your doctor about doing a test in a month or two (a month or two after you stopped using the product) to see if your levels have gone down for any metals of concern that have been found in the product. If your metals have gone down after stopping use of the product you may have grounds to pursue restitution from the company – although lawsuits of this type are almost never fruitful.
- Warn friends and family to stop using bentonite clay based toothpaste or other bentonite clay based products that may be ingested accidentally (like toothpaste) or on purpose.
- Please read this article about the best food-based intervention for heavy metals detox (there’s some great science linked at the bottom), and talk to your doctor to see if this might be a solution that would work for you.
- If you are worried that you may have caused harm to your family by using this (or a similar) product – please read this article for some context.
As humans living today on planet earth, we all have some level of exposure to heavy metals. As parents (and as adults in general), we have the option of making informed choices in our purchasing decisions – informed choices that can help limit the overall exposure to toxicants for our families. The goal here is to reduce the cumulative aggregate exposure to toxic chemicals and heavy metals whenever science demonstrates a potential risk (and whenever businesses fail to sufficiently prove safety – as is the case with all of these bentonite clay-based toothpastes and other personal care products — which are currently virtually unregulated, as far as the concern for exposure to heavy metals). The guiding principle is “Know Better, Do Better”. Now that you know that this bentonite clay-based product has three toxic heavy metals in it, here’s your opportunity to do better by making safer choices for yourself and your family.
Section #6) Additional reading that may be of interest
- All articles on this website related to bentonite clay toxicity
- All articles on this website related to toothpaste
- Articles related to Earthpaste toothpaste
- Article discussing the toothpastes I use with my family
- XRF Test Results for “The Dirt” brand (bentonite clay-based) toothpaste
- Bentonite clay-based baby powder product with unsafe levels of Lead
For those new to this website:
Tamara Rubin is a multiple-federal-award-winning independent advocate for childhood Lead poisoning prevention and consumer goods safety, and a documentary filmmaker. She is also a mother of Lead-poisoned children (two of her sons were acutely Lead-poisoned in 2005). Since 2009, Tamara has been using XRF technology (a scientific method used by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission) to test consumer goods for toxicants (specifically heavy metals — including Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Antimony, and Arsenic). Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February 2023 (March 2023 print edition).