Study: Cosmetic talc can cause asbestos issue

Study: Cosmetic talc can cause asbestos issue

A new study has found that when talc is mixed with asbestos it can be a fatal killer. A study team, including scientists from three different laboratories studied how women who had no previous exposure to asbestos were suffering from mesothelioma later in life. The only cause of mesothelioma is asbestos so the individual must have been exposed at some point to develop the symptoms of either asbestosis or mesothelioma. It has long been questioned how many reports of women with mesothelioma have been rising however there is no identifiable exposure.

There has been a huge increase in the amount of cases of asbestos related cancer in recent years which was previously associated with past work exposure however it has now been made apparent that the increase could also be associated to the presence of asbestos in everyday consumer products.

Asbestos has long been a concern regarding workplace equipment and development however it can also be found in many other products such as brake linings or insulation in walls. Asbestos can still be found in this form in many homes and areas across the UK presently, this is partly due to the ban on asbestos only happening a few decades ago. It is worrying that it can now be found within such a popular product as talc.

In the United States, talc is collected through nine commercial talc mines along with other international suppliers. In all instances of talc production it has been noted by these companies that asbestos is not present in their product. Due to this negligence regarding this issue, there has been many asbestos injury lawsuits filed against manufacturers. This number is in the hundreds however it is hard to exactly note how many lawsuits have been filed due to settlements being issued way before trial. In the instance that a case is argued, the defendant’s lawyer in nearly all cases presents the same argument, that there is no asbestos in their product.

To study whether talc products contained asbestos and the effects of exposure through talc products, the researchers conducted many different tests. During one research, James Millette, a forensic engineer and executive director of MVA Scientific Consultants in Duluth, Ga built a sealed chamber about the size of a typical bathroom. They then installed air collection filters placed in the breathing zone of a person who would be using talc. They then used a subject who used a shaker container and a powder puff, to apply powder to his body.

Sean Fitzgerald, a geologist with SAI Laboratory in Greensboro, N.C made a large, glove box which was sealed with air collection filters and then tested with a subject who rubbed talc on their hands.

In another form of testing, at the pathology department of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Gordon analysed tissue from the body of a woman who had passed away due to mesothelioma. The study reported “We have traced the asbestos in the talc to the mines from which it originated, into the milled grades, into the product, and finally into the lung and lymph nodes of the users of those products, including one woman who developed mesothelioma”.

The talcum powder used by the victim, contained asbestos fibres and after invoices and shipping papers were retrieved relating to the product it was identified that the talc had been imported from a mine in North Carolina.

The research showed that even though this form of talc may only contain small amounts of asbestos, it is still deadly as the asbestos fibres linger in the air, right in the persons breathing zone, longer than talc does.

These studies and research represent the dangerous nature of talc as a product. This form of exposure to asbestos fibres increases the chance of asbestos related deaths from a singular area of work to a broader international scale. The governments from the retrospective mines need to introduce stricter legislation of the selling of talc in particular. The battle against asbestos in the workplace, as a material is still on-going in certain regions of the world which paints a worrying picture about the negligence regarding asbestos inside cosmetic products.

Linda Reinstein, who heads the international Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and is a very active member of the asbestos awareness community, commented with the following-

The mesothelioma and cancers caused by asbestos-contaminated talc are far from a secret, yet the government does nothing. The EPA, the FDA and the Consumer Product Safety Commission have sat idly by and ignored the health risks, so we may never know the actual health impact from contaminated talc in cosmetics or feminine products.”

[1] “Study: Cosmetic talc products carry asbestos peril”, Andrew Schneider,
[2] “Cosmetic talc products carry asbestos peril:study”,