Talc cosmetics are a new health and safety issue. Why? Because asbestos can slip undetected into talc mixtures and threaten the health of consumers.
Fortunately, a test of 50 talc cosmetic samples found no signs of asbestos in any of them.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducts annual safety tests for different talc cosmetic products. One of the measurements is how many product samples have microscopic strands of asbestos.
Talc is the main ingredient in many cosmetics, including baby powder and blush. Manufacturers create a powder, called talcum powder, to keep skin dry and healthy. Many mothers used Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder on kids for decades. The item is well‑documented as having asbestos and being linked to lung cancer, ovarian cancer and a rare cancer called mesothelioma.
Comparing Last Year’s Asbestos‑Filled Samples to This Year
A year ago, the FDA tested 52 samples and found asbestos in nine of them. The worrying rate (17%) led to outcries from activist groups. The stance was obvious and understandable: If manufacturers couldn’t keep asbestos from infiltrating talc mixtures, then why use talc at all?
These companies apparently improved their process of creating talc cosmetics. The FDA’s recent test of 50 samples was 100% clean of asbestos.
“The FDA remains dedicated to keeping consumers safe from contaminated cosmetic products. As part of these continued efforts, the FDA’s most recent survey to assess certain talc‑containing cosmetic products for the presence of asbestos found that all 50 samples tested negative for detectable asbestos,” said Linda Katz, director of the FDA’s Office of Cosmetics and Colors.
“Asbestos is a known human carcinogen, and its health risks are well‑documented. The FDA will continue its efforts to protect consumers by conducting further testing of talc‑containing cosmetics products in order to assess the presence of asbestos.”
Caution Still Needed for Talc Cosmetics
Despite this news, talc and asbestos are forever linked. Health professionals remain cautious and concerned about the use of talc in every‑day products. Exposure to asbestos can lead to cancer, which is why many believe use of talc cosmetics can cause cancer. This is the basis of the relationship between talc and mesothelioma.
Johnson & Johnson stopped producing the talc version of its Baby Powder in 2020. The company faces a mountain of lawsuits — some being mesothelioma claims — from cancer victims exposed to the Baby Powder line. Other companies are also transitioning away from talc and toward alternative skincare ingredients.
“The FDA will conduct another talc sampling assignment in 2022, with 50 additional talc‑containing cosmetic product samples selected for blinded testing and will communicate any results that indicate the presence of asbestos, if found,” the FDA news release states. “The final results are expected to be released next year.”
Sources & Author
- FDA In Brief: FDA Makes Progress on Efforts to Understand Presence of Asbestos in Cosmetic Products. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Retrieved from: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-brief-fda-makes-progress-efforts-understand-presence-asbestos-cosmetic-products. Accessed: 10/26/2021.
Sources & Author