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Asbestos in Talc Powder Products

Talcum Powder

Talcum powder is used for a wide range of purposes, ranging from personal products (including soap and baby powder) to industrial lubricants for precision machinery, ceramics and electronics to name a few.

By itself, talc is a relatively innocuous material. Some researchers suspect that talc may cause cancer in some susceptible individuals, but the connection between talc itself and the formation of malignant cells is tenuous at best; the FDA has classified talc to be "Generally Recognized as Safe" (GRAS).

The problem is that some talc is contaminated with a form of amphibole asbestos known as tremolite. This type of asbestos is related to crocidolite ("blue" asbestos) and amosite ("brown" asbestos), which have been established as the most carcinogenic varieties of asbestos. Unlike the latter two however, tremolite has never been mined or processed commercially.

Both talc and tremolite are metamorphic, created by the same geologic processes; both are forms of magnesium silicate. Not surprisingly, talc deposits are frequently found near sources of tremolite, though in the past, this went undetected since nobody was interested in mining tremolite. Many talc mines thus produced material highly contaminated with tremolite asbestos fibers, which then got into products made from talc.

Today, most talc undergoes inspection for the presence of tremolite asbestos. However, even in recent years talc miners have been subject to exposure to this dangerous substance; in 2000, a Seattle paper reported the presence of tremolite at a talc mining operation in Virginia.

Asbestos-tainted talc has also been discovered in children’s art supplies in recent years; the source was traced to a talc mining operation in upstate New York, where miners have been diagnosed with asbestos disease at rates significantly higher than the general population.

Hazards Associated with Talc Products

Talc itself is generally thought to be harmless. Talc contaminated by asbestos, however, is anything but. Inhaling asbestos fibers is the primary cause of pleural mesothelioma as well as other very serious respiratory ailments. Talc miners were probably at the greatest total risk, but anyone using talc in the early and middle part of the 20th century may have sustained some level of asbestos exposure risk.

Talc Products Containing Asbestos
  • Bauer and Black Baby Talc
  • Cashmere Bouquet Body Talc
  • Clubman Talcum Powder
  • Coco Chanel After Bath Powder
  • Coty Airspun Face Powder
  • Desert Flower Dusting Powder
  • English Leather After Shave Talc
  • Faberge Brut Talc
  • Friendship Garden talcum powder
  • Mennen Shave Talc
  • Old Spice Talcum Powder
  • Rosemary Talc
  • Yardley Invisible Talc
  • Yardley Black Label Baby Powder
  • ZBT Baby Powder with Baby Oil

Occupations Where Talc Use is Common

Talc is used in many ways by many people in various jobs. Some of the most common talc-related jobs that may put individuals at risk of inhaling asbestos-contaminated talc include:

  • Barber
  • Factory Workers
  • Hairdresser
  • Makeup Artist
  • Talc Miner
  • Talc Miller

Notable Talc and Asbestos Lawsuits

A number of lawsuits involving talcum powder use and mesothelioma have come to verdict. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and used talcum powder that may have contained asbestos, contact us to learn about your legal rights.

Year Location Defendant Product Verdict
2015 New York Whitaker Clark and Daniels Desert Flower Talcum Powder $7M
2015 California Colgate-Palmolive Cashmere Bouquet Talcum Powder $13M
2015 New Jersey Whitaker Clark and Daniels Secondhand Exposure $1.6M
2016 California Whitaker Clark and Daniels Clubman Talcum Powder $18M
Sources

Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos (New York: Touchstone, 2003)

N/A. "Talcum Powder and Cancer." American Cancer Society
Source

Schneider, Andrew. "Virginia Miners At Risk From Asbestos." Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 4 October 2000.

Asbestos Found In Ten Powders. The New York Times. March 10, 1976.

American Cancer Society. Talcum Powder and Cancer. Updated May 3, 2016.

Bowker M. Fatal Deception: The Untold Story of Asbestos. New York, NY: Touchstone; 2003.

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog

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