Nearly 15% of talc-based cosmetics are contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos, according to an analysis commissioned the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

The nonprofit watchdog group said the cosmetic industry’s methods for detecting asbestos in talc-containing products are inadequate and not sensitive enough to sus out asbestos as effectively as electron microscopy. “Many well-known brands use talc in body and facial powders that can be inhaled,” said EWG vice president Nneka Lieba.

Asbestos is a mineral that is mined from the earth in much the same fashion and location as talc. Asbestos, once used widely in construction, shipbuilding, and friction materials, contains microscopic fibers that if inhaled or swallowed can enter the body and, over time, develop into a lung inflammation called asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma, a rare but deadly form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart.

The organization’s online database contains more than 2,000 health care products that are made with talc, including more than 1,000 talc-based cosmetic powders that could be easily inhaled. “It’s trouble to think how many Americans have been using talc-based cosmetics products potentially contaminated with asbestos,” Leiba said.

The analysis comes one year after Johnson & Johnson announced a recall of thousands of bottles of its iconic Johnson’s Baby Powder after testing revealed the talcum powder was contaminated with asbestos.

“Inhaling even the tiniest amount of asbestos in talc can cause mesothelioma and other deadly diseases, many years after exposure,” said Tasha Stoiber, a senior scientist at EWG. “How much talc is inhaled—and how much is contaminated with asbestos—is hard to know, but it only takes one asbestos fiber, lodged in the lungs, to cause mesothelioma decades later.”

Mesothelioma litigation

Beasley Allen lawyers handle mesothelioma claims. 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. Charlie Stern in our Toxic Torts Section is the lead attorney working on these types of cases. As an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, Charlie is well equipped to tackle asbestos cases, which are highly complicated and require someone with a true understanding of the facts, medical issues, science and law. He is working together with Will Sutton, an experienced lawyer in our Toxic Torts Section. Contact us for more information.

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