NEW ORLEANS - Certain counterfeit Halloween cosmetics could contain lead or other dangerous toxins that can cause long-lasting health issues, federal authorities warn.
Investigators with Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Custom's Enforcement will team up with other federal and local authorities to target counterfeit cosmetics this Halloween season. Those agencies, along with the Louisiana Attorney General's Office will announce a major anti-counterfeiting operation in the New Orleans area Monday.
According to ICE, counterfeit contact lenses, makeup and other cosmetics often contain lead or other toxins that pose a significant consumer safety risk. Directly putting lead into your eye can lead to medical issues including impaired vision, eye infection or conjunctivitis - inflammation to your eyelid or eyeball.
"The presence of bacteria and other toxins are the results of poor sanitary conditions during packaging and improper storage during the shipping process," the agency said.
The FDA says anyone looking to change their eye color for Halloween should contact an eye doctor and get a prescription from a licensed provider.
"You'd never buy a new hip at a flea market and you should never buy a medical device like contact lenses at one either," said Georgia Optometric Association President Dr. Ben Casella. "If you're not careful, one night of using knock-off lenses to change your appearance can mean a permanent change in your ability to see for the rest of your life."
In recent years, ICE has collected more than 100,000 pairs of counterfeit, unapproved contact lenses.