FDA Tests Increase Concerns Over Talcum Powder and Asbestos

Published on March 19, 2020 by Laurie Villanueva

The results of a recent U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) investigation are raising new concerns about the presence of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder and other talc-based cosmetics.

What Products Tested Positive for Asbestos?

According to a notice posted to the agency’s website on March 9th, the year-long study found asbestos in 9 of 43 talc products tested, including:

“There is general agreement among U.S. federal agencies and the World Health Organization that there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure,” said Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition,

The FDA has already recalled the affected products from the market and plans to test 50 additional talc-based products. Any positive findings will be communicated to the public.

Why is Asbestos Turning Up in Talc?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral directly linked to the development of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, stomach, heart and other organs. Because talc is often found in the same areas as asbestos deposits, the talc used to manufacture body powders and other cosmetics must be carefully selected and tested before use.

Unfortunately, the FDA’s asbestos results suggests some companies’ testing protocols are inadequate.

“A .200 batting average in baseball is borderline bad, but it’s downright deplorable when it comes to asbestos in cosmetics,” EWG Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber said in statement released shortly after the findings were published  “The results of FDA’s tests should be all the evidence needed for Congress to act quickly to pass legislation mandating all talc-based personal care products are rigorously tested and the cosmetics industry is required to put the public’s safety first.”

Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson is currently defending thousands of talcum powder lawsuits that allege Baby Powder and Shower-to-Shower contributed to the development of ovarian cancer or caused mesothelioma. More than a dozen cases have already gone to trial, with about half of the juries returning verdicts for plaintiffs.

Most recently, a jury in Florida ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $9 million to woman who says asbestos-tainted talc caused her mesothelioma. The verdict was the company’s second loss in the nationwide talcum powder litigation this year, and came just days after Johnson & Johnson quietly settled a similar case in New York City.

While Johnson & Johnson denies that its talc-based powders contain asbestos or have any association with cancer, analysts believe talcum powder lawsuits could ultimately cost the company as much as $10 billion.

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