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Talc-Based Cosmetics and Asbestos Exposure

Published on Apr 27, 2021 by Thomas Law Offices.

Mesothelioma Lawyer

If you use any cosmetic products, you know just how many are on the market, and it can be hard to figure out which one’s you like and whether any will cause irritation. While skin irritation is something to be concerned about, there’s a worse health concern when it comes to talc-based cosmetics containing asbestos. If you think you’ve been exposed to asbestos from products you purchased from the pharmacy, grocery store, makeup retailer, etc., we can help you determine if you have legal options.

What Is Talc?

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral found throughout the United States. It’s soft in texture and usually green, white, gray, or brown. It is composed primarily of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Talc is often produced into a powder, which is called talcum powder. As a powder, the substance can absorb moisture, oils, odors, and other infectants. For beauty products and cosmetics, talc can keep skin dry and prevent rashes.

Why Is Talc Used in Cosmetics?

Talc is a common ingredient in cosmetics, particularly in powder-based products, like eyeshadows, blushes, and foundation powders. If you look at the ingredients listed on the package, talc could be listed as talcum powder, talcum, talc, cosmetic talc, or magnesium silicate.

The most common reasons talc is used in makeup include absorbing moisture, adding color, enhancing makeup visibility, helping makeup stay in place, preventing caking, smoothing or softening the product, and improving the feel of the product.

There are alternatives to talcum powder, but the ingredient is still popular in cosmetics. Some alternatives that require further testing include silica, zinc oxide, corn starch, rice starch, tapioca starch, kaolin, and rice powder.

The Connection Between Talc and Asbestos

Like talc, asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral found in the ground. Both minerals are found in similar geographic areas, and the two are often neighbors in Earth’s soil. According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the materials are sometimes found close enough to each other that they can mix. When talc is mined, there’s a chance it’s been contaminated with asbestos. As a result, the International Agency for Research on Cancer labels asbestos-containing talc as a carcinogenic material.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), asbestos is found in 15 percent of talc products. Commonly affected goods include the following:

  • Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder
  • Johnson & Johnson’s Shower to Shower Powder
  • Degree Men Antiperspirant and Deodorant
  • Centrum Multivitamins
  • Walgreens Aspirin 81
  • Chanel after-shower health and beauty powders

If you think you’ve been exposed to contaminated talcum powder, it’s important to understand the associated risks.

The Risk of Mesothelioma From Asbestos in Makeup

Contaminated talc can cause health problems because the loose asbestos fibers can enter the body and irritate cells, which can result in cellular mutation and tumors. As a proven carcinogen, asbestos can cause cancer, like mesothelioma, and other diseases when fibers are inhaled or ingested.

While men are most at risk of workplace exposure to asbestos, women are more likely to be exposed via talc products. The usage of talc was standard practice for nearly all of the 20th century. It wasn’t until the 1990s that the FDA requested manufacturers stop using talc for their products. However, the issue remains that the FDA does not regulate cosmetic-grade talc because of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.

While companies try to avoid talc contaminated with asbestos, there’s no regulating body checking commercial talc for the carcinogen. In addition to that, the FDA and other federal agencies do not examine talc or talc-containing products made overseas.

Because of the long latency period associated with asbestos-related diseases, many people who unknowingly used contaminated talcum powder in the 1970s are only now beginning to develop signs and symptoms. While symptoms vary from person to person, common signs of mesothelioma include dry cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, fever, pleural effusion, fatigue, and muscle weakness.

The only way to diagnose mesothelioma is through a biopsy. Additional diagnostic procedures, like imaging scans and blood tests, can be used in conjunction with a biopsy to strengthen a diagnosis. Treatment can be challenging depending on the patient’s age and the severity of the cancer, but common treatments include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and clinical trials.

Contact Thomas Law Offices

If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be able to pursue legal action against the company or entity that exposed you to asbestos. The lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help. To learn more, contact us today.

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Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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