Johnson & Johnson recently recalled thousands of bottles of its popular baby powder after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported finding asbestos in samples. Already facing thousands of lawsuits over mesothelioma and other types of cancer potentially triggered by talcum powder, the company is denying the FDA’s findings. A new problem has arisen, however, with evidence that Johnson & Johnson rushed its tests that found no asbestos in baby powder.
Voluntary Recall of over 33,000 Baby Powder Bottles
The lawsuits have been going on for several years, and while some victims have won their cases, Johnson & Johnson has consistently denied their products contain any asbestos or cause cancer. Just a few weeks ago, the FDA tested a batch of baby powder and found it contained contaminating asbestos. The FDA recommended that consumers immediately stop using the product.
Out of what it calls “an abundance of caution,” Johnson & Johnson responded to the FDA report by issuing a voluntary recall of a batch of baby powder made and shipped to retail outlets in 2018. The company also announced it would be working closely with the FDA to test products and determine the validity of the results that found asbestos.
Third-Party Testing Finds No Asbestos – But Results Rushed
Although Johnson & Johnson responded to the FDA by issuing a voluntary recall, it also took steps to initiate third-party testing of the same batch of product. It announced that two separate labs tested the baby powder and found no more than 0.00002 percent of asbestos.
While the news seemed good and bumped the company’s stock significantly back up, now reports indicate that the third-party results could be compromised. Johnson & Johnson was so eager to get new results that it rushed the testing.
One round of the tests was done in a lab that hadn’t been properly prepared. As a result the tests were likely contaminated by an air conditioning unit. The lab that did the testing blames the contamination on Johnson & Johnson for pushing them to get it done so quickly.
No Safe Amount of Asbestos
It may be true that the FDA samples contained asbestos and that the third-party samples did not. To truly understand if a batch of talcum powder is contaminated requires multiple tests. Any contaminating asbestos may not be uniformly distributed throughout the product.
Another issue is that no amount of asbestos is considered safe. The tiny fibers of asbestos, which may be in talcum powder products because talc is a natural mineral found with other mineral deposits, can be inhaled into the airways. There they cause damage, and the more exposure a person has, such as after years of baby powder use, the more likely that damage will cause mesothelioma or lung cancer.
There is no safe level of asbestos exposure, which means that even trace amounts found in Johnson & Johnson products can be problematic. Consumers need to be aware of the risks so they can make their own, informed decisions about using these products. If you used Johnson & Johnson talcum powder and later developed mesothelioma or other lung conditions, contact an experienced mesothelioma and asbestos lawyer for guidance.