Canadian Regulators Warn About Human Health Effects of Talc Exposure

Health officials in Canada are the latest to raise red flags about the potential health risks of talc exposure, warning that loose talc used in many popular cosmetics, personal care products, and other products may damage the lungs and lead to ovarian cancer in users. Concerns about the possible side effects of talc exposure have escalated over the past decade, as many talc-containing products in the U.S. have been found to contain toxic asbestos particles, which can cause cancer. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, or another serious side effect that you believe to be caused by exposure to asbestos in a talc-based product, contact us as soon as possible to find out how we can help.

What is Talc Used For?

Talc is the softest mineral on earth, and it absorbs moisture well, smooths fine lines, and reduces the appearance of oily skin, which makes it a useful ingredient for body powder products and cosmetics. Talc in powdered form is known as talcum powder, which has been around since the 1890’s, when it was first used for baby care. Besides talcum powder, talc can also be found in blushes, foundations, finishing powders, powder compacts, eye shadows, creams, and other personal care products.

Toxic Asbestos Particles Found in Talc-Containing Products

In a statement released on April 22, Health Canada announced the results of a final screening assessment of talc and new measures aimed at managing the risks associated with inhaling loose talc powders and using certain products containing the mineral. “Most uses of talc are not a concern to human health. However, based on the latest science and the final screening assessment completed in 2021, the Government of Canada concludes that talc may be harmful to lungs when inhaling certain loose talc powder products, and it may cause ovarian cancer when using certain self-care products containing talc in the female genital area,” the Canadian government cautions. “As a result, the Government is proposing measures to help manage the risks posed by the use of talc in a limited number of product types, such as certain cosmetics, natural health products and non-prescription drugs.”

Health Canada launched its investigation into the safety of talc after several widely used talc-containing products in the U.S. were found to be contaminated with asbestos, which is a known carcinogen. In a study published in November 2020, researchers found that nearly 15% of all cosmetics containing talc may also contain toxic asbestos fibers, including certain products marketed to children. As the FDA notes on its talc page, “Talc is an ingredient used in many cosmetics, from baby powder to blush. From time to time, FDA has received questions about its safety and whether talc contains harmful contaminants, such as asbestos.”

Lack of FDA Regulation Surrounding Talc and Asbestos

Cosmetic companies and other manufacturers don’t intentionally add asbestos to their products. However, because talc is mined from the earth, where it often occurs in close proximity to asbestos, talc mined for commercial use can easily be contaminated with the carcinogen by mistake. As a matter of fact, it is not uncommon for asbestos contamination to occur in cosmetic-grade talc that has been certified “asbestos-free.” And because the FDA doesn’t regulate cosmetic-grade talc, cosmetic companies in the U.S. are not required to test for asbestos in their products, which means consumers may be exposed to toxic asbestos without their knowledge, just by using certain products that contain talc. In fact, many consumers are now pursuing legal claims against the makers of talc-based products, alleging that they were exposed to asbestos and developed cancer as a result.

Asbestos Exposure Lawsuits Against Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower body powder products, currently faces tens of thousands of lawsuits filed by consumers who developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma allegedly caused by their use of the company’s talc-based products. All of the lawsuits involve similar allegations that Johnson & Johnson was aware of the human health risks associated with talc and knew that talc particles were sometimes present in its products, yet withheld this information from consumers and health regulators.

Johnson & Johnson announced last year that it would no longer sell its talc-based powder products in the U.S. and Canada, and would substitute the controversial ingredient with cornstarch, but the long-awaited decision to remove Johnson’s talcum powder from the market came far too late for consumers who used the talc-based powder for years, or even decades. If you believe you may have a talcum powder cancer claim against Johnson & Johnson for mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, or other injuries, don’t hesitate to seek qualified legal guidance. Contact Consumer Safety Watch today to explore your possible compensation options.