Pathologists, cancer specialists and experts in lawsuits have warned that products like baby powders and body powders containing talcum powder can cause deadly mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it has no legal grounds to protect consumers from these products.
Talcum is derived from talc, a natural mineral composed of other minerals such as asbestos, a known carcinogen which has been linked to the deadly form of lung cancer, mesothelioma. Talcum powder is found in cosmetics and body and baby powders. It also has been used in the manufacturing of tires, paper, thermoplastics, polymers, paints, and foods, and has been used for cutting illegal drugs such as cocaine, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Many manufacturers of talc-containing products say they remove the asbestos in their products, but the FDA, when asked last month what the agency was doing to ensure safety of talc-containing products, said that “manufacturers of cosmetic products and ingredients do not need FDA approval before they go on the market.”
The agency did note that it is unacceptable for cosmetic talc to contain asbestos and the agency can take action against cosmetics on the market that do not comply with the law. However, the agency is not testing these products to assure that they contain no asbestos.
Some experts say that it is dangerous for the FDA to rely on manufacturers to ensure the safety of the talc they produce. For example, last month the third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lawsuit could go forward alleging one of the country’s largest miners of talc intentionally concealed the presence of asbestos in its minerals.
The controversy surrounding talcum powder has increased in recent months after a jury found consumer health care giant Johnson & Johnson liable for not warning consumers that use of its talcum powder products, such as its Shower to Shower body powder, could cause ovarian cancer if used in the genital area. Since then, several lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson saying regular use of the company’s baby powder caused plaintiffs’ to develop ovarian cancer.
Source: Times Union