The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the final report from testing to detect asbestos in samples of consumer cosmetics containing talc. The yearlong testing, conducted by AMA Analytical Services Inc., began in September 2018 in an effort to keep consumers safe from potentially contaminated cosmetics. Among 43 samples tested, nine were positive for asbestos.
“We have taken and will continue to take swift action when we determine a cosmetic product is not safe,” said Susan Mayne, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. The testing led to the October 2019 recall of one lot of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder after some bottles were found to be contaminated with asbestos.
“There is a general agreement among U.S. federal agencies and the World Health Organization that there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure,” she said.
Earlier in March, during a public meeting, the FDA gathered input from federal partners, industry experts, and the public to support the development of standardized testing, methodologies, terminology, and criteria that can be applied to characterized and measure asbestos and other potentially harmful elongate mineral particles that may be present as contaminants in talc containing products or products that use talc as an ingredient.
Beasley Allen attorney Leigh O’Dell, who serves as the co-lead counsel representing plaintiffs in the federal ovarian cancer multidistrict litigation, attended the meeting and implored agency officials to update testing protocols to utilize transmission electron microscopy and other more accurate and sensitive tests that can better detect microscopic asbestos fibers in cosmetic talc as well as similar carcinogens. Asbestos is a known carcinogen, but fibrous talc “is a deleterious, cancer-causing elongated mineral that should be included in all testing protocols,” she said.
“Our work in this area is ongoing and we’ll continue to communicate with the public as we have updates to share,” Mayne said.
Beasley Allen lawyer Ted Meadows, together with Leigh O’Dell, is heading up the team handling claims of ovarian cancer linked to talcum powder use for feminine hygiene. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma.