Asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma. Its dangers are well known, yet it continues to appear periodically in various consumer products. The most recent controversy involves Claire’s and their makeup.

A similar scenario occurred at the popular retailer, Justice. The company recently recalled eight different beauty products due to concerns of asbestos in their talc.

Events like this make you wonder where this harmful substance might show up next.

FDA Regulation of Cosmetics

FDA logoWhen it comes to the safety of cosmetic products, companies are required to list the ingredients they use. However, there is no law that obligates them to share their safety information with the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA monitors potential issues with cosmetic products. Before they can act, though, they need to provide sound scientific data that suggests the product is harmful. Overall, cosmetic companies monitor themselves.

The Concern With Cosmetic Talc

This issue has especially been highlighted by the lawsuits brought up against Johnson & Johnson for their talc products.

Image of contaminated talc Talc is generally a safe mineral. However, it is commonly criticised for its safety because it forms naturally in close proximity to asbestos.

If not mined carefully, talc can become contaminated. Johnson & Johnson claims their baby powder has always been asbestos-free. Memos from the 1970s question the company’s quality control of their talc. They express concern that “occasionally, sub-trace quantities” of asbestos have been found in their baby powder.

The safety of talc has been a topic of debate for years. Cosmetic-grade talc is supposed to be completely free of asbestos.

The American Cancer Society states that “all talcum products used in homes in the United States have not contained asbestos since the 1970s.”

Studying Asbestos Contaminated Talc

A study at Mount Sinai in 1976 found asbestos in ten different brands of baby powder products. ZBT Baby Powder with Baby Oil had the highest concentration. In 2015, a study revisited Mount Sinai’s test and measured the asbestos concentration in ZBT Baby Powder.

The 2015 study confirmed the results of the original experiment. Researchers found asbestos in the products. Unfortunately not every brand of talcum powder before the 1970s can be tested, however, this study shows that it is possible for asbestos to appear in older talc products.

Occasionally asbestos still shows up in products today. A possible cause for this could be the prevalence of imported talc.

In January 2015, U. S. Geological Survey reported that about 260,000 tons of talc were imported in the United States.

More than 75 percent of the imported talc was in the cosmetics, paint, and plastic industries. Since asbestos legislation differs from country to country, imported talc could run the risk of being contaminated.

Asbestos Use in Hair Dryers

The possible dangers of talc-based cosmetics can be attributed to contamination. On the other hand, did you know that there were other beauty products in the past that contained asbestos in them? For example, hair dryers.
Person using a hair dryer

Asbestos is recognized for its powerful insulating properties. In older hair dryers, it was used to help prevent them from overheating and catching on fire. Unfortunately, every time an individual used their blow dryer, they’d release tons of asbestos fibers into the air.

In 1979, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health determined that the number of asbestos fibers emitted from hair dryers was a significant health threat. By 1980, the majority of manufacturers chose to stop using asbestos in these products. As of today, hair dryers use a mineral called mica for insulation.

Compensation for Asbestos Exposure

Many companies were aware of the harmful side effects that asbestos imposed. Because of this, there is compensation available to help patients and their loved ones. Compensation can help pay for treatment, traveling, and unforeseen medical expenses. For instance, asbestos trust funds have billions of dollars reserved to help compensate those affected by asbestos-related diseases.

Patient advocate CarlFor more information about getting the compensation that you deserve, please contact Mesothelioma Guide’s patient advocate Carl Jewett. You can reach him at 844-838-6376 or by emailing cjewett@mesotheliomaguide.com.

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Show Sources & Author

  1. Claire's is testing its makeup for asbestos. Youtube. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9lRSnAXJaU&feature=youtu.be. Accessed: 01/17/2018.
  2. Retailer Justice yanks makeup that may contain asbestos. USA Today. Retrieved from: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/07/19/retailer-justice-stops-sale-makeup-brand-after-asbestos-report/490456001/. Accessed: 01/17/2018.
  3. U.S. Federal Bans on Asbestos. EPA. Retrieved from: https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/us-federal-bans-asbestos. Accessed: 01/17/2018.
  4. Cosmetics Q&A: Why are cosmetics not FDA-approved?. FDA. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/ucm135709.htm. Accessed: 01/17/2018.
  5. Talcum Powder and Cancer. American Cancer Society. Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html. Accessed: 01/17/2018.
  6. Baby powder battles: Johnson & Johnson documents reflect internal asbestos concerns. Miami Herald. Retrieved from: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article194497199.html. Accessed: 01/17/2018.
  7. Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4164883/. Accessed: 01/18/2018.
  8. The hard truth about the softest mineral: Talc is littered with stray asbestos. Salon. Retrieved from: https://www.salon.com/2015/09/13/talc_tests_arent_doing_enough_to_detect_asbestos_partner/. Accessed: 01/19/2018.
  9. Asbestos in hair dryers. Asbestos Global. Retrieved from: http://asbestosglobal.org/asbestos-in-hair-dryers/. Accessed: 01/30/2018.
  10. UPDATE: Justice Has Just Announced a Recall of 8 Makeup Products Due to Asbestos Concerns. Good Housekeeping. Retrieved from: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty/news/a45117/asbestos-in-justice-tween-makeup/. Accessed: 02/12/2018.

About the Writer, Robert Lethbridge

Robert Lethbridge is member of the community outreach team at Mesothelioma Guide. His goal is to improve the lives of those affected by mesothelioma by increasing awareness.