A scientist who heads a company that specializes in detecting microscopic asbestos fibers in samples of talc said he found up to 55,000 fibers of the carcinogenic mineral per gram in six out of seven samples from a Korean talc mine, which means that a 10-ounce bottle of talcum powder could contain as much as 14 million asbestos fibers, Law360 reported.
The scientist, William Longo, is an electron microscopist who serves as president of Material Analytical Services, a company that specializes in finding near-invisible bits of asbestos in various samples. His equipment is highly sensitive – far more so than the common polarized light microscope method. He shared the information with jurors in the latest trial accusing Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder products of being contaminated with asbestos.
Longo testified that he also found asbestos in Johnson & Johnson talc products from Vermont mines, and verified test results on samples of J&J’s Shower to Shower body powder from another lab in which asbestos was found in nine out of 16 samples. The other lab had found asbestos in 11 of the samples but Longo said two of the samples he received from the lab had been damaged. In total, of the 41 samples he tested, 25 – or 61 percent – contained asbestos.
The trial involves the case of Teresa E. Leavitt, who claims that she developed mesothelioma – a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure – after years of using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powders. She claims J&J and its talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, knew for decades that the talc contained asbestos but failed to warn consumers of the risks or to replace the talc with much safer corn starch.