Talc, also known as talcum powder, has been a controversial ingredient in various products and materials for decades. It is a naturally occurring mineral often found near asbestos, which allows for potential asbestos-talc contamination.
Due to the close proximity of the two minerals, many products containing talc have tested positive for asbestos, a cancer-causing mineral, and resulted in the discontinuation of certain products. Many companies have turned to talc alternatives to avoid the risk of asbestos contamination, but many consumers wonder: Is purified talc safe to use?
What is Purified Talc?
According to Avani Group of Industries’ website, purified talc distributed from APJ Industries, a business entity under the Avani Group of Industries umbrella, is the purest powder form of hydrated magnesium silicate (talc). The website states that global regulation agencies consider purified talc safe for human consumption.
Purified talc with IP / BP / USP specifications* is an acceptable excipient, or “inactive ingredient,” to be included in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical tablets, capsules, dermatological powders, and creams. Most medications include some type of “inactive ingredient” or filler substance with no medicinal properties to support the delivery of the medicine.
*Note: IP / BP / USP specifications are used to specify the origin of the drug. IP stands for Indian Pharmacopoeia; BP stands for British Pharmacopoeia; USP stands for United States Pharmacopoeia
Purpose of Purified Talc in Pharmaceuticals
Purified talc is often used to manufacture pharmaceutical pills. The substance is used in a variety of ways, such as:
- Lubricant – Talc is applied to the exterior of capsules and tablets to support the pill-swallowing process. It prevents the capsule from sticking to the mold during the manufacturing process.
- Glidant – Talc is mixed into the capsule or tablet’s powder substance to reduce interparticle friction, surface charge, and cohesion. It supports powder flow, which is important during the capsule or tablet’s compression process.
- Anticaking agent – Talc is a water-repellent (hydrophobic) substance, so it is often used to keep powders free-flowing and prevent the substance from clumping together.
- Dissolution and desorption – Talc is added as a final coat on tablets to optimize the rates at which the medication dissolves and the body absorbs the medication.
Health Risks Associated With Talc
Although Avani Group Industries describes its purified talc as a “best quality product,” the statement has not always been true for other industry leaders. Due to the possibility of asbestos-talc contamination, there are reports of talc products testing positive for asbestos, resulting in serious health issues for consumers.
Talc is dangerous when contaminated with asbestos. When talc is in its powder form, it’s easy to inhale or ingest. If contaminated with asbestos, a consumer might unknowingly inhale or swallow talcum powder particles as well as sharp asbestos fibers. The asbestos particles are sharp and can become lodged in the linings of the lungs or abdomen, causing irritation, cell mutation and tumor formation.
Johnson & Johnson has been at the center of the asbestos-talc controversy for nearly 20 years, as the company’s world-famous baby powder was linked to multiple types of cancer. The original formula of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder included talcum powder with traces of asbestos. This resulted in thousands of consumers developing severe health issues associated with asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. It has an extensive latency period or the time between exposure and diagnosis, which often results in advanced-stage mesothelioma. When a patient is diagnosed with advanced mesothelioma, treatment can be difficult as the cancer has likely grown and spread significantly.
Talc was once used in a variety of powder products – from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals. As we now know the potential dangers of talc and the likelihood of contamination, many companies have veered away from the use of talc and have now found alternatives.
However, just because the new formulas are on the shelves doesn’t mean consumers are safe from the effects of the old formulas known to contain asbestos.
Some asbestos-contaminated talc products were:
- ZBT Baby Powder with Baby Oil
- Cashmere Bouquet Body Talc
- Coty Airspun Face Powder
- Rosemary Talc
- Bauer & Black Baby Talc
- Faberge Brut Talc
- Yardley Invisible Talc
- Yardley Black Label Baby Powder
- Mennen Shave Talc
- English Leather After-Shave Talc
- Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder
- Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower Powder
- Degree Men Antiperspirant and Deodorant
- Chanel after-shower health and beauty powders
- Avon powder products
- Walgreens Aspirin 81
- Talcum powder used in barbershops (to reduce irritation on the neck or face)
- Various cosmetics (lipstick, mascara, face powder, blush, eye shadow or even children’s makeup)
If you once used these products and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, connect with our registered nurse and patient advocate, Karen Ritter. She can connect you with top mesothelioma specialists to access the best treatment. If you have any health-related questions about your mesothelioma diagnosis, she can help.
We can also connect you with legal experts who specialize in asbestos cases. For instance, victims of asbestos exposure often have access to asbestos trust funds, which are bank accounts created to compensate victims of asbestos exposure. Connect with our patient advocates today to learn more about these options.
- Talcum Powder and Cancer. American Cancer Society. Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/risk-prevention/chemicals/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html. Accessed: 08/28/2023.
- Talc. United States Food & Drug Administration. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredients/talc. Accessed: 08/28/2023.
- Purified Talc in Pharmaceuticals. Avani Group of Industries. Retrieved from: https://avanitalc.com/applications/purified-talc-pharmaceuticals/. Accessed: 08/28/2023.
- Purified Talc. Prachin Chemical. Retrieved from: https://www.prachinchemical.com/Purified-Talc.html. Accessed: 08/28/2023.
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Sources & Author