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). All test results reported on this website are science-based, accurate, and replicable. Items are tested multiple times to confirm the test results for each component tested. Tamara’s work was featured in Consumer Reports Magazine in February of 2023 (March 2023 print edition).
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Published: July 30, 2023
I find reporting on certain “recurring themes” exasperating and tedious (products like Lead-contaminated toothpaste!) — products that are just the latest example of a stupid, intrinsically-toxic product design (which in a sane society would never have made it to the market even once!); product categories for which I have already tested and written multiple examples about, but that I find myself having to write about yet again, for an additional *new* (or newly discovered) company! However, here I am again — this article is about yet another Bentonite Clay-based toothpaste product.
First, let’s review what I have written about similar Bentonite Clay-based toothpaste products each time they have popped up in the past (like so many poisonous mushrooms):
- Cadmium is a known carcinogen.
- Antimony is also a known carcinogen (that was officially added to the Federal index of carcinogens in December 2021).
- Lead is a known extremely potent neurotoxicant (and all Federal agencies agree there is no safe level of Lead exposure because the impact of Lead exposure on the body is also cumulative).
- These three elements that are poisonous to humans are typically found in Bentonite Clay — alone or in various combinations — at varying (unsafe for ingestion or inhalation/ XRF-detectable) levels.
- For this reason, Bentonite Clay should NEVER be used in a product that may be intentionally (or accidentally) ingested (or inhaled!) <deep sigh!>.
There are SEVEN sections to the article below.
Please read all of them.
- Section #1) Four Sets of XRF Test Results (for the VanMan’s tooth powder product)
- Section #2) How Much Lead, Cadmium, & Antimony is “Too Much” Lead, Cadmium & Antimony?
- Section #3) Potential Symptoms of Lead-exposure
- Section #4) Lead in Tooth Powder/ Toothpaste: It’s not illegal — but it should be
- Section #5) NOT a “DETOX” Product! (Don’t believe the industry-influenced marketing hype — look to the independent third party science)
- Section #6) Primal Life Organics Saga from 2022 (& additional related articles on this website)
- Section #7) In Conclusion: What you should do if you are a customer & what the company should do in response to this article
Section #1) Four Sets of XRF Test Results (for the VanMan’s tooth powder product)
Below are four images, each with a set of test results from XRF testing done on a sample of VanMan’s Miracle Toothpowder (unopened package, prior to testing, pictured above). Because it is a powder, the metals content varies slightly from test to test (when testing powders, I intentionally shift the powder about in a [metals-free] baggie prior to each test, to help ensure I can [approximately] replicate the levels found). The levels found (in each set of test results) were consistent and replicable, within the margin of error shown.
The above readings show the following range for concerning metals:
- Lead (Pb): Range from 6 ppm to 21 ppm
- Found to be present in all four tests
- This works out to up to 21,000 ppb Lead
- While there is no safe level of Lead exposure, Lead is considered toxic (and illegal) in items like dried fruit and candy when it exceeds the range of 50 to 100 ppb (depending on the specific product).
- Cadmium (Cd): Range from 2 ppm to 11 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): Range from 4 ppm to 19 ppm
- Found to be present in two of the four tests
- This works out to up to 19,000 ppb
- Antimony was added to the list of known carcinogens in 2021; there are currently no safety thresholds set for Antimony found in products that may be ingested or inhaled.
Please Note: the readings shown in the images above are in parts per million (ppm) — each of those numbers needs to be multiplied by 1,000 to get the part per billion (ppb) reading (for example, 7 ppm is the same as 7,000 ppb).
Because this information is likely going to have a significant impact on the VanMan company, to be 100% certain of the results I would publish in this article, I tested the product more than a dozen times — each time for 3-minute-long tests (ensuring maximum accuracy). Additional testing considerations:
- The product was tested using a freshly calibrated (recently factory-refurbished) XRF instrument that passed state inspection less than one week prior to the testing: July 25, 2023.
- The product was tested against a known metals-free background (a slab of wood that was first tested for metals content prior to testing the product).
- The product tested was taken from a jar purchased directly from the manufacturers website, a jar that was unopened prior to the testing being done.
- As is standard for testing samples of similar finely granular substances (dust, soil, powder), the sample of the product was placed in a fresh (previously unused) thin plastic film (known and tested metals-free) baggie for testing.
- The above four images each show one test result for a separate 3-minute test of the product.
- Note: when testing similar substances (including soil) using XRF technology — laboratory (digestive), test results for the same sample consistently show results within the same range as found with XRF technology. I therefore expect laboratory testing of this product would easily confirm these findings.
Section #2) How Much Lead, Cadmium, & Antimony is “Too Much” Lead, Cadmium & Antimony?
As noted in the bullet points above (and pretty much anywhere you look online), there are no safe levels for ingestion of Lead (and other neurotoxic metals, for that matter). If you look at just the legal limit for Lead in candy (a “whopping” 100 ppb), this tooth powder exceeds that level by as much as 210 times.
While one might argue that “gee, you would have to ingest a lot of tooth powder to reach a hazardous level of exposure, when compared to the volume of candy or chocolate typically consumed,” the fact is that “acceptable” levels for Lead in Cadmium in candies (for example) were set based on the candy industry’s (highly questionable) argument that “people eat candy and chocolate rarely, and only in very small quantities” (see image below with a quote from the National Confectioners Association).
That already fallacious underlying premise notwithstanding, if you then contrast Candy’s regulatory limit against this use case you need to evaluate this with the context that we know toothpaste is typically used orally, daily, 2 or 3 times a day … Then understand that that frequency of use, at these much higher levels quickly adds up to a significant and concerning level of potential cumulative exposure to highly toxic heavy metals.
Section #3) Potential Symptoms of Lead-exposure
Given this VanMan’s Tooth Powder has Lead content as high as 21,000 parts per billion (far exceeding the limits for most foods and beverages, which are generally in the range of 1 ppb to 100 ppb) it is prudent to share briefly about possible symptoms of Lead exposure. (To learn more in depth about symptoms please watch the documentary film I directed and produced and also check out this section of the website.)
As this product appears to be heavily-marketed to a male audience (both looking at their website, packaging, and social media channels) here (again, briefly) are a few of the most common symptoms of Lead exposure in men (and these symptomatic expressions have also been clearly demonstrated to present even in cases of low-level chronic exposure as one might experience from using a Lead-contaminated product orally, daily, multiple times each day — as one does with toothpaste):
- Sexual dysfunction (including erectile dysfunction and reproductive disorders)
- Infertility (part of #1 but worth highlighting on its own)
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Arthritic issues (joint and bone pain and stiffness)
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of kidney disease
- Memory impairments/ increased risk of Alzheimer’s
Section #4) Lead in Tooth Powder/ Toothpaste: It’s not illegal — but it should be
Unfortunately, there is currently no law (yet) preventing companies from manufacturing and selling toothpaste (or tooth powder) in which a primary ingredient is Bentonite Clay. I explored this subject ad nauseam in my series of posts and articles (and public exchanges) with Trina — the owner of Primal Life Organics — last summer (June 2022).
I don’t feel there’s a need to go into this in detail yet again/separately for the VanMan’s Miracle Toothpowder product — which has the exact same issue. Instead, I will share links to the full series of articles and posts from the exchange with Primal Life (and related articles) below so those of you who have not already read about this well-covered subject can read all of the considerations (Section #6, below).
the levels of toxic heavy metals in Bentonite Clay are so consistently high that it should obviously be illegal to use Bentonite Clay in toothpaste; there is somehow (still) no such legal barrier to a seemingly endless parade of new poisonous “health products” of this ilk!
What about Prop 65?
Based on EXISTING regulatory statutes, toothpaste manufacturers are legally — ostensibly — required to label their products with a Bentonite Clay base that are for sale in the State of California with a California Prop 65 warning for Lead.
My “fight” with Earthpaste (nearly a decade ago) resulted in them changing their packaging in two ways: #1) removing the “silly lemon” with googly eyes on the packaging obviously designed to be attractive to children, and #2) more clearly highlighting the Prop 65 warning on the exterior boxes of their products (but in practice, since the exterior box is thrown away as soon as you get the product home, most customers are in fact actually not aware of the warning).
As far as I can tell, Primal Life and VanMan do not appear to (currently) have any Prop 65 labels on their products nor in their marketing materials (see screenshots below from today from the VanMan website). I scoured the product listing and greater website, and could not find any Prop 65 warning there, either). This means that any sales of this product in the State of California are likely illegal.
I did however find this “gem” of a b.s. statement about Prop 65 on Primal Life Organics website today:
Section #5) NOT a “DETOX” Product! (Don’t believe the industry-influenced marketing hype — look to the independent third party science)
Separate from the fact that using Bentonite Clay can poison you, the notion promoted in certain circles that Bentonite Clay is a “detox” product is an absurd urban myth — not backed by science. On the contrary: the reality is that there are case studies in which Bentonite Clay usage (when it has been used as a “detox” product) has been identified as a likely source of Lead-poisoning. This is discussed at length in several of the articles linked below in Section #6.
The only folks perpetuating this debunked “detox” narrative are the people and companies who sell these products (and the unfortunate customers willing to suspend critical judgement/ ignore their common sense, the science, and just “believe”). The Lead is not “bound” in the clay. There is not an “ionic charge” that prevents the Lead from being absorbed. This is all nonsense. The scientific “documentation” often provided as “evidence” of Bentonite Clay’s ability to detox are narrative summaries of unscientific articles — not actual scientific studies by reputable independent scientific research institutions (again, all discussed in the links below in detail).
To reiterate: Bentonite Clay has unsafe levels of heavy metals, and should not be in any product that goes anywhere near your mouth where it might possibly be ingested!
Primal Life Organics Saga from 2022
(& additional related articles on this website)
- The “Bentonite Clay” category of posts and articles on this website
- December 2017 article linking to more on the dangers of Bentonite Clay
- April 2022 — Test Results for “The Dirt” tooth powder
- March 2017 article discussing the issue with ppm vs ppb for Bentonite Clay
- March 2017 posted document from Redmond confirming they are aware of the Lead-content of their Bentonite Clay
- April 2014 — Original EarthPaste Article
Articles & Posts Specific to Primal Life Organics
- June 20, 2022 — Original Primal Life Organics Tooth Powder Article
- June 20, 2022 — Email From Nurse Owner of Primal Life Clearly Indicating she Does not Understand the Issue With her Product (& my Detailed, Point-by-Point Response)
- June 21, 2022 — Discussion of Scientific Study Clearly Demonstrating That Ingested Bentonite Clay Causes Lead to Concentrate in Livers & Kidneys
- June 21, 2022 — Link to 2016 FDA Warning About Lead in Bentonite Clay Products
- July 2013 Study Discussing Heavy Metal Concerns with Bentonite Clay Based Products sold as “Healing” Products
- June 22, 2022 — Threatening Letter From Primal Life Organics Attorney to Lead Safe Mama, LLC
- June 23, 2022 — Misleading Statements Made by Primal Life Organics to Customers
- June 24, 2022 — “Hit Piece” on me, Sent out by Primal Life Organics to Customer Base
- June 25, 2022 — More Misleading Statements Made by Primal Life Organics to Customers
- June 26, 2022 — An article with a screenshot from social media of a June 20, 2022 email from Primal Life Organics owner (a nurse by profession) clearly indicating she does not understand the science and math behind the concerns for Lead in her tooth powder product.
- Certificate of Analysis for the Clay Base Used by Primal Life Organics (confirming Lead)
Additional Inherently Dangerous Lead-Contaminated Bentonite Clay Based Products
Section #7) In conclusion: What you should do if you are a customer & what the company should do in response to this article.
Here’s what Lead Safe Mama, LLC is doing:
- I shared this article with VanMan (via a DM on Instagram), plus they are also following the Lead Safe Mama account on Instagram (of the 100 accounts they follow) and have been tagged by several Lead Safe Mama readers on the related article there.
- I will also be sharing this article with a nonprofit advocacy group in the State of California that reviews potential legal violations with companies manufacturing products that test positive for toxicants (heavy metals) and which are not properly labeled.
- I will also be sharing about this issue (regarding all brands of Bentonite Clay based toothpaste on the market today) with the FDA.
I hope that VanMan takes the time to read over the full communications with Primal Life, so they do not make the same highly public mistakes made by Primal Life. Sending me threatening letters from lawyers demanding I take down my science-based, accurate, replicable test results has historically turned out to not be good optics for a company. 😉 I hope VanMan instead is proactive in resolving the issues with this product.
Here are my tips for what VanMan should do:
- They should stop selling this product, so they can conduct further testing if they need to.
- They should offer refunds to customers who express concerns.
- More immediately, they should add Prop 65 language to their website and packaging right away — and, to them and other producers, “pssst — this will limit your liability in the long-run!”
What should you do if you have been using this product?
In the meantime, my recommendation is that anyone using this toothpowder product (or any other Bentonite Clay-based products that go in your mouth) should stop using the product immediately and consider also asking your doctor about getting a Blood Lead Level test immediately, as well (you can read more about Blood Lead Level testing at this link). Given this product also tested positive for Cadmium and Antimony (far above levels that would be considered safe in food), a full heavy metals panel via a urine, hair, or blood test would also be an appropriate thing to ask your doctor about (you can read more about those additional types of testing here).
While you are waiting to get an appointment with your doctor to discuss this (if that is an avenue you plan on pursuing), garlic consumption has actually been demonstrated (over and over again, through many scientific studies) to be one of the best methods for reducing the body burden of Lead (especially from ongoing low-level exposure)! You can read more about that here.
Owner — Lead Safe Mama, LLC