Talcum powder was commonly used in various baby powder and body powder products. Although Johnson & Johnson recently removed talc-based baby powder from the United States market, there are many powder products that still contain talc as the primary ingredient. Talc is found in many powder products such as body powders, face powders, foot powder, and a variety of make-up products including blush and eye shadow.
Talc is a mineral mined from the earth. Unfortunately, talc is commonly contaminated with asbestos fibers. Although corn starch was always available to manufacturers as an asbestos-free alternative ingredient for powder products, many talc product manufacturers failed to replace talc with cornstarch and endangered millions of innocent consumers.
How Can Asbestos Get in Talc?
Like talc, asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral that has been used in a variety of industrial and consumer products primarily due to its low cost. Unfortunately, exposure to asbestos fibers in talc can cause serious health problems, including mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive cancer.
The asbestos contamination in talc usually occurs during the mining process, when talc deposits are inter-mixed with asbestos. When asbestos contaminates the talc, it is impossible to remove because asbestos fibers are microscopic. As a result, many products that contain talc will also contain asbestos, especially if the talc supplier and manufacturer do not use the most sensitive test methods to test talc for the presence of asbestos.
Who is at Risk?
Since asbestos is often contained in talc products which have lined store shelves for decades, millions of consumers have been exposed unknowingly to asbestos fibers that increase the risk of cancer, including mesothelioma.
People Who Use Talcum Powder
Many people do not realize that talcum powder can become contaminated with asbestos, often using the product for extended periods of time. Studies have also shown that talc-based products cause mesothelioma and put women at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Workers Mining Talc
Talc miners may be exposed to asbestos if they work in an underground mine where asbestos-containing rock is present. Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause a variety of diseases, including mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
In Upstate New York, there has been an epidemic of mesothelioma among miners and millers of talc. However, mesothelioma among miners and millers of talc is often difficult to detect, particularly if the workers are not tracked for a long enough period of time and if death certificates are relied upon to determine the cause of death.
People living in homes where talcum powder is regularly used (e.g., sharing a bathroom with a daily talcum powder product user) or those who live with family members who work in industries using mining, milling or using talc may also be at increased risk.
What Aren’t Manufacturers Doing?
Despite the well-documented risks of asbestos exposure, manufacturers have continued to use talc products that contain the mineral. In many cases, manufacturers have failed to take adequate precautions to protect workers and consumers from exposure. Despite massive product recalls, people were already being exposed to asbestos-containing talc products for prolonged periods.
Suppliers and manufacturers of talc have also failed to use the best and most sensitive test method to test their talc for asbestos fibers. Instead, industry has relied mostly on a flawed and inadequate test method developed by the industry itself. The talc and cosmetic industry knew their industry test method was inadequate but continued to use it anyway because they wanted to avoid test results that confirmed asbestos in their products.
What Can Product Manufacturers Do to Eliminate Asbestos Exposure from Talc Powders?
In order to protect consumers, manufacturers must take steps to eliminate exposure to asbestos fibers from talc. There is a very simple way that manufacturers could have done this historically and that all manufacturers should be doing now. In order to reduce their exposure to liability, manufacturers should use talc alternatives that are free from asbestos.
In one example, Johnson & Johnson, a major company involved in producing asbestos-contaminated talcum powder, opted to end all sales of talcum baby powder in May of 2020 and instead use a cornstarch-based alternative. The problem with Johnson & Johnson is that the company intentionally chose to use talc for decades and decades, even though it could have used corn starch all along, and even though the company had internal test results showing asbestos in Johnson’s Baby Powder.
New York City Asbestos and Mesothelioma Attorneys
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation. The attorneys at Levy Konigsberg have a long track record of successful asbestos litigation, and we are dedicated to fighting for the rights of mesothelioma victims. We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients, and we are prepared to put our experience and resources to work for you. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact us today for a free consultation. We will review your case and explain your legal options.
If you have been affected by the exposure to asbestos, call us today at (800) 315-3806 or fill out our form online for a free consultation.