Talc is a harmless ingredient by itself. Most people rarely think of products such as perfumed powder being deadly. Yet, when mixed with asbestos, talcum powder can cause life-threatening diseases such as mesothelioma.
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About Talcum Powder Dangers
Talc is a soft mineral that can be found worldwide. It’s mined frequently for use in a variety of products, including talcum powder. In some instances, mine talc contains asbestos, usually tremolite asbestos, and it’s still in the talc when it’s formed into consumer products.
In turn, mesothelioma lawsuits continue to surface from people who’ve developed asbestos-related diseases after using talcum powder.
Although talcum powder manufacturers assert that currently, only the purest asbestos-free forms of talc go into products, there’s no way to be absolutely sure since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t screen these consumer products and allows the cosmetics industry to monitor their own products.
Asbestos Studies on Talcum Powder
According to the National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, occupational studies done on talcum powders showed that when women used these powders, toxic asbestos fibers, which were mixed into talcum products prior to the late 1970s, could cause ovarian cancer. This type of cancer occurs after the asbestos fibers in the power build and accumulate in a woman’s ovaries.
In 2014, the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health published a detailed study regarding mesothelioma victims who used talcum powder.
Investigative journalist Andrew Schneider, the writer of the story, pointed out in detail that many women who passed away with mesothelioma developed the disease from asbestos after using common household products such as talcum powder. The reason behind the mesothelioma remained a mystery until the story uncovered the culprit.
Schneider wrote that scientists from three different laboratories tracked asbestos-containing talc for over a year in both mines and in consumer products. The scientists then linked asbestos to a woman’s lungs, who had passed away from mesothelioma. She had used talcum products for numerous years.
Other reports of women who used talcum powder and subsequently died followed. According to Ronald Gordon, a pathologist and a contributor to the study,
“Of course we knew that there was asbestos contaminating the talc in many cosmetic powders, but who would have ever thought that that’s the way these women were being exposed?”
At the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Gordon analyzed a deceased female’s lung tissues. It confirmed further that the cause of her mesothelioma stemmed from asbestos found in talc.
“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.”
According to the study, the female mesothelioma victim frequently used a talcum powder called Cashmere Bouquet, manufactured by Colgate,which “contained identifiable asbestos fibers with the potential to be released into the air and inhaled during normal personal talcum powder application.”
In addition to mesothelioma, the study, similar to the previous occupational studies done, confirmed that not only are women who use talcum powder at risk for developing mesothelioma, but they also have a heightened risk of developing certain types of ovarian cancers.
Talcum Powder is Still Dangerous
Although talcum powder manufacturers stopped using asbestos in the products more than 30 years ago, this doesn’t necessarily mean that today’s talcum powders are safe.
Studies Highlight Dangers
According to a 2006 study published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, using talcum powder, even without any asbestos mixed in, can still be dangerous as it’s “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
In another study performed on talc powder in 2013 by the American Cancer Society (ACS), results confirmed that using non-asbestos talcum powder “is associated with a modest 20-30 percent increase in risk of developing epithelial ovarian cancer.”
There isn’t a true way to know if talcum powder is asbestos-free unless the FDA begins to thoroughly inspect the products. For now, the companies that manufacture the products are still responsible for inspections.
Further, although there’s probably products with much less asbestos in them these days, thousands of talcum powders are shipped into the United States from overseas all the time. These products are not inspected by the FDA or any other federal agency.
Unfortunately, the makers of cosmetic products aren’t required to prove that the ingredients used in the products are safe before selling them. According to a statement on the FDA website,
“Cosmetic companies have a legal responsibility for the safety and labeling of their products and ingredients, but the law does not require them to share their safety information with FDA.”
Women and Mesothelioma
Although mesothelioma generally affects men more, as asbestos was once used heavily in numerous industrial jobs that primarily had more male workers. Yet, women are four times more likely to develop mesothelioma when compared to men.
Talcum powder isn’t the only way women come into contact with asbestos. Second-hand exposure to asbestos through a spouse’s or family members’ work clothes is one of the leading ways that women develop asbestos-related illnesses. Some women have developed mesothelioma while working in schools, hospitals, and court buildings.
For instance, Gina Lees is a school teacher in England who worked around asbestos-filled drawing pins for more than 30 years. Doing simple and normal, everyday school activities disrupted asbestos in the classroom, which eventually led to Lees developing mesothelioma. She died in 2015 after battling the disease heartily.
Resources and Assistance for Asbestos Victims
If you’ve been injured by asbestos, keep in mind that there is a good chance that you’ll qualify for considerable compensation. Remember to fill out our form to get your free Financial Compensation Packet, with information on experienced asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers in your area. If you have questions or need additional assistance, contact us at 800-793-4540.
Page Reviewed and Edited by Mesothelioma Attorney Paul Danziger
Paul Danziger grew up in Houston, Texas and earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. For over 25 years years he has focused on representing mesothelioma cancer victims and others hurt by asbestos exposure. Paul and his law firm have represented thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, recovering significant compensation for injured clients. Every client is extremely important to Paul and he will take every call from clients who want to speak with him. Paul and his law firm handle mesothelioma cases throughout the United States.