Nearly 15% of talc-based cosmetic products analyzed in a recent study, contained asbestos. According to a HealthDay news report, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an American advocacy nonprofit that performed the analysis and commissioned the testing, said methods employed by the cosmetics industry to screen talc supplies are inadequate. Researchers said the voluntary testing method developed by the industry is not sensitive enough to screen for asbestos compared to electron microscopy.
What the Study Shows
Those who commissioned the study said many well-known brands use talc in body and facial powders, which can be inhaled. In fact, EWG’s online database has identified more than 2,000 personal care products that contain talc, including more than 1,000 loose or pressed powders that could pose an inhalation risk. The analysis was published in the Nov. 25 issue of the journal Environmental Health Insights.
The Scientific Analytical Institute conducted the tests using electron microscopy to analyze the samples. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require such testing for talc-based products. Researchers recommend that the FDA develop a more rigorous screening method for talc, especially for personal care products. Researchers at the lab repeatedly find asbestos in products made with talc, including cosmetics marketed to children. The head of the Institute said it is “outrageous” that the cosmetics industry is not required to use a precise testing method for personal care products even though the technology exists.
Talc, Asbestos, and Cancer
Talc is used in cosmetics to improve texture or absorb moisture. Talc and asbestos can be formed in the same rocks mined for cosmetic and industrial use. As a result, asbestos can find its way into the talc used in cosmetic products ranging from face and body powders to eye shadow, blush, and foundation.
Asbestos is a known carcinogen (material that causes cancer), and inhaling asbestos fibers is the most common cause of certain cancers such as mesothelioma, which is often deadly. Numerous women have also filed lawsuits against companies such as Johnson & Johnson because they developed ovarian cancer after using the company’s talcum powder products for feminine hygiene purposes – a use that the company has aggressively promoted in the past.
It took Johnson & Johnson decades to stop selling talc-based baby powder despite the company knowing about these dangers. The company is still facing thousands of lawsuits over these products. If you or a loved one has developed cancer from using talcum powder products, an experienced product defect lawyer skilled at handling this type of litigation can help you better understand your legal rights and options.