The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday it would examine claims from an American consumer group that it has found some brand-name lipsticks contain potentially dangerous levels of lead.

The agency said that similar claims had not been confirmed in the past.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics had 33 brand-name red lipsticks tested.

About 60 per cent had detectable levels of lead, ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm). The remainder had no detectable levels of lead.

Here are some of the products with the highest lead levels:

  • L'Oreal Colour Riche "True Red" - 0.65 ppm
  • L'Oreal Colour Riche "Classic Wine" - 0.58 ppm
  • Cover Girl Incredifull Lipcolor "Maximum Red" - 0.56 ppm
  • Christian Dior Addict "Positive Red" - 0.21 ppm

One-third of those brands containing lead exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's limit of 0.1 ppm for lead in candy.

The group said that limit was established to protect children from ingesting lead.

"It's unconscionable that women should have to worry about lead in lipstick," said the campaign's Stacy Malkan. "We want the companies to immediately re-formulate their products to get the lead out and ultimately, really we need to change the laws and force these companies to be accountable to women's health."

However, the FDA said concerns about lead in lipstick have been raised occasionally.

"These concerns have not generally been supported by FDA's own analysis of products on the market. In the present case, we are looking into the specific details of the issues raised," Stephanie Kwisnek, a spokeswoman at the FDA, told The Associated Press. "We will need to confirm the factual basis of these reports independently in order to determine what action, if any, may be needed to protect public health."

Meanwhile, a trade group representing the cosmetics industry also said the report is nothing new and that women have nothing to worry about.

"I think the levels are actually quite low. I consider these to be trace levels, really low and not something that would present a cause for concern," said John Bailey of the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association.

The cosmetics industry argues that women don't ingest very much of the lipstick they wear.

Malkan argues that cosmetics can be made without lead.

The group said that lead, a neurotoxin, can cause a host of problems, particularly in children. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable, it said.

In a statement, Bailey said lead is not intentionally added to cosmetics, adding, "Despite the negligible levels of lead found in some lipsticks, cosmetic companies are committed to reducing that level even further."

But some experts say that in the case of lipstick, the health worries are unfounded. They  point out lead is everywhere in trace amounts.

"We live in a very complex world, where we are using all kinds of chemicals, we're synthesizing all kinds of things, and lead just gets into us. It's impossible to avoid it," McGill University's Joe Schwarcz told CTV News.

The FDA sets strict limits on lead levels used in lipstick colours, "and actually analyze most of these to ensure they are followed," the statement said. "The products identified in the (CSC) report meet these standards."

In response, a Cover Girl representative said the company stands behind its products. L'Oreal said its products are tested and meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration standards. The maker of Dior says the only lead in its products are naturally occurring and harmless.