Concerns about asbestos contamination in talc products continue to grow amid reports from federal regulators that a number of cosmetic products that contain talc have tested positive for the carcinogen asbestos over the last year. Several high-profile recalls were issued over asbestos contamination last year, including a Claire’s cosmetics recall in March and a Johnson’s Baby Powder recall in October, which sparked concerns about the possible presence of asbestos in talc-containing cosmetics and other commonly used beauty and healthcare products. According to a new press release issued by the FDA this week, out of 52 samples taken from talc-containing cosmetic products, nine tested positive for asbestos. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another type of cancer and you believe your cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos in a talc-based product, contact an experienced talcum powder cancer attorney today to discuss your options for legal recourse.
Much of the attention surrounding the safety of products that contain talc has been centered on the unexpected presence of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talcum powder products, which have been used for decades to prevent rashes and keep skin dry. Johnson & Johnson has spent years defending the safety of its talcum powder products and publicly denying any link to asbestos, a known carcinogen. However, internal documents unsealed in 2017 revealed that Johnson & Johnson executives were aware of concerns over asbestos contamination in the company’s talc-based products as early as the 1970s yet did nothing to warn consumers and the medical community about this potential risk. In October 2019, the company recalled 33,000 bottles of Baby Powder after FDA testing discovered the presence of asbestos in samples taken from a Baby Powder bottle purchased from an online retailer.
The main ingredient in Johnson’s talcum powder products is talc, a clay mineral used in many cosmetics and beauty products, from baby powder to blush. Because talc is often naturally found near asbestos in the earth, the mineral can easily become contaminated with asbestos while being mined. In recent years, the possibility of asbestos being present in talc-based products has led to a great deal of concern over the health risks associated with the use of talcum powder, which has been linked to cases of ovarian cancer, lung cancer and mesothelioma. According to the FDA, “There is general agreement among U.S. federal agencies and the World Health Organization that there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure.” According to the American Cancer Society, “Talc that has asbestos is generally accepted as being able to cause cancer if it is inhaled.”
On March 9, 2020, the FDA issued a press release announcing the results of a year-long investigation into the presence of asbestos in talc-containing cosmetic products. “The FDA is committed to keeping consumers safe from potentially contaminated cosmetic products. As part of this effort, in September 2018, the agency awarded AMA Analytical Services, Inc. (AMA) a one-year contract to test certain talc-containing cosmetic products for the presence of asbestos,” the press release states. “We have taken and will continue to take swift action when we determine a cosmetic product is not safe.” The full results showed that 43 samples were negative for asbestos and nine were positive for asbestos. The FDA reports that it will conduct another round of talc testing throughout 2020, with 50 additional samples taken from talc-containing cosmetic products and will communicate any positive results if found.
Johnson & Johnson faces approximately 18,000 lawsuits filed by plaintiffs nationwide who claim that the healthcare company knew for decades that its Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower talcum powder products may contain asbestos and expose users to an increased risk of cancer. While most of the lawsuits were filed on behalf of women who developed ovarian cancer after years of talcum powder use, a growing number of claims involve consumers diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare but deadly cancer that is only known to occur as a result of exposure to asbestos. To date, Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay more than $5 billion in damages to plaintiffs alleging ovarian cancer, mesothelioma and other devastating side effects associated with the company’s widely used Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower products.