FDA Panel Says Exposure to Any Detectable Level of Asbestos in Talc Could be Dangerous

Amid the thousands of lawsuits currently pending against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson for injuries allegedly caused by asbestos contamination in the company’s talc products, a panel of experts convened by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said this week that any level of asbestos in talc that could be inhaled by consumers should be considered toxic. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, mesothelioma or another serious medical condition you believe to be related to asbestos contamination in talcum powder, don’t hesitate to seek legal help. An experienced talcum powder cancer lawyer can evaluate your case and determine whether you are eligible to file a claim against the manufacturer for compensation.

Asbestos Contamination in Talcum Powder Products

On February 4, the FDA held a long-awaited hearing to discuss the best methods for testing products that contain talc, a naturally occurring mineral that in powdered form has been widely used in baby powder products for decades. According to the FDA, “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.” Asbestos is also a naturally occurring mineral and it can be found in close proximity to talc in the earth, which is how asbestos contamination in talc products can occur. However, unlike talc, asbestos is a known carcinogen, which means it can cause cancer in those exposed to the mineral.

Before the talcum powder testing hearing, the FDA’s Interagency Working Group on Asbestos in Consumer Products released preliminary testing recommendations for the agency to consider. According to the group, any mineral particles in talcum powder products that are small enough to be inhaled into the lungs should be considered potentially toxic to consumers, even if the particles don’t technically qualify as asbestos. The group also noted that asbestos and minerals that look like asbestos pose a similar risk of health problems and that distinguishing between them is therefore unimportant. At the hearing, experts reported that all elongated mineral particles (EMPs), asbestos included, appear to have the ability to cause cancer and other diseases when inhaled.

Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Recall

The FDA’s talcum powder testing hearing comes on the heels of a nationwide recall of Johnson & Johnson’s widely used Baby Powder last October. The recall was issued after testing found asbestos particles in a bottle of J&J’s talc-based Baby Powder purchased from an online retailer and the recall affected about 33,000 talcum powder bottles sold in stores across the country. Despite these findings and the talcum powder recall that followed, Johnson & Johnson has maintained that its talc-based Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower Body Powder products don’t contain asbestos and has even gone so far as to call into question the findings of FDA investigators.

Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuits

Talcum powder has been used by women across the country for decades as a cosmetic and feminine hygiene product and Johnson & Johnson currently faces approximately 15,000 talcum powder lawsuits filed on behalf of women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other potentially life-threatening conditions they believe were caused by talc-based products. Each lawsuit involves similar allegations that regular exposure to asbestos in talcum powder caused these significant injuries and evidence uncovered during the ongoing talcum powder litigation suggests that Johnson & Johnson actually knew for years that asbestos may be present in talc-based powders and that it could increase the risk of cancer among women who use the powders for feminine hygiene purposes. Still, J&J has refused to provide adequate warnings to consumers about the potential risk of cancer from talcum powder.