According to Global News Canada, not all talc poses a health risk. But after a final screening assessment conducted by Health Canada as well as from Environment and Climate Change Canada, both of which are governmental organizations, the researchers reached this conclusion: avoid using products containing talc in loose powder form, and avoid using products containing talc in the female genital area.
This conclusion comes as no surprise to the approximately 25,000 consumers who have filed talc baby powder lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, which owing to the negative publicity surrounding the litigation and declining sales, discontinued selling its iconic J&J talc baby powder last year.
In an effort to make the litigation go away, Johnson & Johnson committed $100 million to settle 1,000 talc lawsuits. Plaintiffs allege that using talc in the genital area for many years caused them to develop ovarian cancer. It’s not the talc itself that causes cancer but rather asbestos.
Johnson & Johnson recently disclosed in a corporate public filing that it was setting aside nearly $4 billion for litigation, most of which will be steered towards talc lawsuits.
Because talc and asbestos are located in close proximity to each other in the Earth, when talc is mined, asbestos particulates can leach into crushed talc. Even trace amounts of asbestos have been shown to contribute to cancer. When asbestos particulate matter is inhaled, the particles can lodge in the lungs and cause scarring.
Over time, the scarring can develop into malignant tumors. It can take years or even decades for the tumors to develop, but ultimately, the tumors can cause lung cancer or a cancer of the lining of the lungs called mesothelioma.
A press release issued by Canadian health officials announcing the conclusion of the screening assessment reads, “The final screening assessment, based on the latest scientific evidence, concludes that certain uses of talc may be harmful to human health.”
In addition to baby powder the following talc-containing products may pose a risk to human health, the Canadian researchers suggested: diaper and rash creams, genital antiperspirants and deodorants, body wipes, bath bombs and bubble bath products.
However, the researchers added that the evidence suggests applying talc is safe provided that it’s not in loose powder form or applied directly to the genital area. Thus, applying pressed makeup powder on the skin likely poses no health risk.
In light of the conclusion, Global News reports that Canadian health officials may adjust some of the product monographs for products containing talc, and suggest that people reduce exposure to those products.
According to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), “Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), cosmetic products and ingredients, with the exception of color additives, do not have to undergo FDA review or approval before they go on the market. Cosmetics must be properly labeled, and they must be safe for use by consumers under labeled or customary conditions of use. The law does not require cosmetic companies to share safety information with FDA.”
The FDA website continues, “FDA monitors for potential safety problems with cosmetic products on the market and takes action when needed to protect public health. Before we can take such action against a cosmetic, we need sound scientific data to show that it is harmful under its intended use.”
Apparently, Canadian health officials have weighed in on the issue, while the FDA hasn’t reached the same conclusion.