Cosmetic talcum powder is a finely powdered form of the mineral, talc. Talc is often contaminated with asbestos fibers, which can cause cancer.
What is Cosmetic Talc?
Talc has been used for centuries because it’s a relatively soft mineral that absorbs moisture. Talc is primarily used in cosmetics such as baby powder, eyeshadow, face powder, and blush. This is how and why:
- Absorbency: Talc absorbs oil and moisture, so it’s in powders and facial cosmetics to lessen the shine of skin
- Texture: Talc contributes to a smooth and silky texture for many cosmetic products, resulting in a soft and luxurious feel
- Anti-caking: Talc prevents clumping and ensures a smooth application
- Fragrance carrier: Talc can carry fragrances in some cosmetic formulations
The use of talc for decorative purposes started in the 1900s.
What’s the Connection Between Cosmetic Talc and Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that carries severe health risks, including lung diseases and cancers after its fibers are inhaled or swallowed. Talcum powder and asbestos are mined from open pits. They’re often found together in the same geological formations, so cross-contamination is likely.
Those mining, processing, and selling talc should be constantly aware of this possibility and test their products for asbestos. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2020 stated the industry’s standard tests have “long-recognized shortcomings in specificity and sensitivity,” according to NBC News.
What is Mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and fatal cancer affecting chest and abdominal cavity linings and the linings of various organs, most commonly the lungs (known as pleural mesothelioma), caused by asbestos fibers. It could take three to four decades after the initial asbestos exposure for pleural mesothelioma to develop.
What’s the Link Between Cosmetic Talc and Mesothelioma?
A 2023 article in the Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology. Researchers examined 166 people with mesothelioma and substantial asbestos exposure through cosmetic talc and other products with asbestos.
In 122 of the cases, the only known asbestos exposure was due to cosmetic talc. For the remaining 44 cases, there were potential or actual exposures to other asbestos-containing products.
The article states:
“Mesothelioma is associated with asbestos exposure…For individuals with exposure to asbestos through cosmetic talc usage and additional alternate sources, all exposures contribute to the development of mesothelioma. Published case reports and case series have identified over 100 individuals whose sole exposure to asbestos was through cosmetic talcum powder usage.”
The article’s authors stated that physicians treating those with mesothelioma should ask about their exposure to cosmetic talc, in addition to other, better-known asbestos-containing products, to understand better how many developed this deadly cancer due to talc.
How Do We Know Asbestos Contaminates Cosmetics Using Talc?
The US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) Education Fund announced in 2018 that an independent lab it hired to test makeup sold at Claire’s retail stores was contaminated with asbestos. Fifteen makeup products from several different brands were tested. Claire’s markets its products to teen and pre-teen girls.
US PIRG states they found the following products to be contaminated:
- Claire’s Contour Palette
- Claire’s Shadow and Highlight Finishing Kit
- Claire’s Compact Powder
The organization stated they did their tests after learning of earlier tests showing cosmetic products with asbestos.
The FDA released the results of its fiscal year 2019 asbestos testing of 52 cosmetic products. Asbestos was found in nine products. Three were sold at Claire’s, five products were from the City of Color brand, and the last was Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder.
Johnson & Johnson recalled its baby powder in 2019 and later replaced the talc with corn starch, reports the FDA. That year, Beauty Plus Global, which distributed the City of Color products, also withdrew them from the market. Claire’s also recalled their products.
Take Action — Contact Our Mesothelioma Law Firm
If you developed mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease because of exposure to cosmetic talc, you may be entitled to compensation for the harm you’re suffering. Satterley & Kelley, PLLC, can be your trusted local law firm if you seek compensation for yourself and your family.
Call our Louisville office at 855-385-9532 or complete our contact form to schedule a free initial consultation concerning your asbestos exposure case. We can discuss your situation, what you may be able to obtain for your injuries, and what you should do next.
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