Despite heightened awareness of the potential for asbestos to contaminate talc, the cancerous mineral’s appearance in cosmetics isn’t going away.

In a recent test, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) discovered asbestos in approximately 15% of talc-based cosmetic products. The EWG requested tests of 21 samples and found asbestos in three: two eye-shadow palettes and one children’s toy makeup kit.

The analysis was published two weeks ago in the Environmental Health Insights journal.

The news reaffirms that asbestos in talc cosmetics is a massive problem in American commercialism. Unsuspecting consumers of talc-based cosmetics may be exposed to sharp fragments of asbestos hiding in the talcum powder ingredient.

While the volume of exposure is low, there is no safe amount of asbestos exposure. Any individual fiber can invade the narrow lining just outside your lung or abdominal cavity. It then punctures your sensitive tissue linings in these linings. This is how mesothelioma forms.

Many people develop this rare cancer after exposure to isolated asbestos fibers in talc cosmetics. There have been lawsuits upon lawsuits, but these tests show the issue isn’t being properly addressed.

The EWG points to “inadequate” and “outdated” testing procedures as the cause of asbestos in talc products. Nneka Leiba, EWG’s vice president for Healthy Living Science, said “more than 2,000 personal care products” include talc as an ingredient. Of them, more than half are “loose or pressed powders that could pose an inhalation risk.”

 

How Does Asbestos Find Its Way Into Cosmetics?

Asbestos contaminates these loose talc powders due to the two minerals forming in close quarters within the earth’s soil. Mining for talc can lead to mixtures of the two minerals.

Talc is often ground into a powder, which is used in cosmetics to absorb moisture and improve the texture. However, the powder can include detached asbestos fibers.

Manufacturers have faced heavy criticism for asbestos in their products. Johnson & Johnson ended its talc-based Baby Powder after receiving thousands of legal claims.

In a report early in 2020, around 23% of tested cosmetics contained asbestos.

 

Analysis of the EWG Cosmetic Tests

The Scientific Analytical Institute conducted the tests, analyzing cosmetic eye shadow, foundation, blush, face powders and baby powders. The samples included both liquid and cream forms.

All three dangerous products with detectable asbestos were purchased from a high-volume online retailer. Of the two eye shadow palettes testing positive for asbestos:

  • One had 20% of the colors test positive
  • The other had 40% positivity among its colors

In the children’s toy makeup kit, one of three eye shadow shades tested positive. This news isn’t the first of asbestos found in a children’s toy makeup.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not mandate testing of talc cosmetics for asbestos. The agency instead leaves testing to the whims of the manufacturers, which do not have sensitive enough screenings for asbestos. The Scientific Analytical Institute used electron microscopy to detect the tiny asbestos fibers.

Sean Fitzgerald, head of the institute, called on the FDA to create a high standard for talc texting.

“The lab repeatedly finds asbestos in products made with talc, including cosmetics marketed to children,” he said. “It’s outrageous that a precise method for testing personal care products for the presence of asbestos exists, but the cosmetics industry isn’t required to use it.”

If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma and don’t know how you were exposed to asbestos, contact our team. There’s an increase in nonoccupational cases, particularly among women, and asbestos in talc is one of the leading causes. 

We may be able to help you learn why you developed this cancer. Email our patient advocate and registered nurse, Jenna Campagna, at jenna@mesotheliomaguide.com.

    Sources & Author

Devin Goldan image

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.

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    Sources & Author

Picture of Devin Golden

About the Writer, Devin Golden

Devin Golden is the content writer for Mesothelioma Guide. He produces mesothelioma-related content on various mediums, including the Mesothelioma Guide website and social media channels. Devin's objective is to translate complex information regarding mesothelioma into informative, easily absorbable content to help patients and their loved ones.