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Fuller's Earth Health Effects

by
author image Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut has published peer-reviewed medical research since 1971. Pickut teaches presentational speaking and holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors and is editor for "The Jamestown Gazette." Pickut holds bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and master's degrees in physiology and mass communication.
Fuller's Earth Health Effects
Fuller's earth is a useful skin treatment, a movie prop, and more. Photo Credit Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Overview

Dry a fist-full of clay and pulverize it. The result is fuller's earth. One use for this product is to make dust and explosion clouds for movies. According to set technicians and cinematographers at the Film Tools website, fuller's earth is only vaguely defined chemically and mineralogically. It is mostly kaolin, or clay, containing aluminum magnesium silicate and other elements. Fuller's earth is also used as an absorbent in skin treatments. Most other health effects are related to inhalation or eye irritation.

Inhalation

Actors and set workers making a movie will inhale fuller's earth if a scene calls for a cloud of dust, a smoky explosion or a dusty old wine bottle blown clean by the butler. Film Tools experts cite the Manufacturer's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) entry for fuller's earth, which warns against inhaling the dust. Respiratory-tract irritation, coughing and sneezing will result. The MSDS also states that, as of 2010, the toxicological qualities of fuller's earth have not been fully investigated. The variable composition makes a reliable analysis impossible, and the document urges caution concerning health effects because of possible toxic contaminants or harmful minerals in the mixture.

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Eye Contact

If you get dust in your eyes on a windy day, you know almost as much as the safety specialists at the Chemical Information Network. It provides MSDS data on more than 250,000 chemicals and substances used in households and industry. Its fuller's earth entry simply states: "May cause eye and skin irritation." No specific toxic or poisonous qualities are noted. This reflects the common knowledge that ordinary outdoor dust is powdered dirt, much like fuller's earth, and the tiny particles can injure and irritate the delicate membranes in your eye.

Absorbent

Cosmetics and skin-care specialists at the Cosmetic Info website list 17 possible clay-like components present in variable amounts in any sample of the fuller's earth used in bath products, various kinds of makeup and skin-care products. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel has evaluated the scientific data and concluded that all of the ingredients are safe in personal care products and cosmetics. Some components of fuller's earth act as absorbents for skin oils and moisture and can mop up odor-causing byproducts of skin bacteria. Other components add or hold coloring agents while some modify the handling characteristics of cosmetic agents. Many cosmetics containing fuller's earth are prohibited for use near your eyes or lips to prevent irritation.

You can add fuller's earth to a facial mask home remedy for mild skin conditions, according to the herbalists at Mamaherb.com. Take advantage of fuller's earth's absorbent qualities to help cleanse your skin and pores. When you wash off the mask, some skin toxins may be washed away with it.

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References

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