Protecting Children From Talcum Powder Exposure

Repeated exposure to talcum powder products can result in health problems. Parents should be cautious about using talc-based products around their children.

Due to the recent media attention regarding asbestos in Johnson & Johnson® baby powder and Claire’s makeup, many parents are concerned about the health of their children. Numerous children were exposed to these products before we knew that they could be dangerous.

It’s important that parents stay up to date on the various talc-based products that may be harmful. Many medical professionals suggest that parents avoid using talc products altogether and purchase safe alternatives instead.

Health Risks of Talcum Powder Products

Talc is a common mineral widely used in cosmetic products like makeup and baby powder. Exposure to talc can be dangerous, especially when it contains cancerous materials like silica and asbestos.

There has been a recent surge of lawsuits against talc-based product manufacturers. Thousands of women claim they’ve developed ovarian cancer as a result of their talc product use. Many of these women were first exposed to talcum powder when they were babies and have been using it ever since.

Some people have also filed lawsuits after developing mesothelioma, a severe asbestos-related cancer. These patients claim that the regular use of asbestos-contaminated talcum powder caused their illness.

Inhaling asbestos fibers in talc can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.

Talc in powder form presents the most significant risk to consumers because it’s possible to inhale fibers when applying loose talc products to the body. These fibers can get lodged in the lungs where they cause the formation of scar tissue.

It’s not uncommon for people to develop talcum powder cancer after many years of use as harmful fibers in talc-based products build up over time. With prolonged use, it’s more likely that these fibers make their way into the lungs or ovaries and cause damage.

Research has found that consistent use of talcum powder on the genital area increases the risk of ovarian cancer. 

Talcum Powder in Children’s Products

Talc is found in several cosmetic products, many of which are marketed towards children and parents. As a result, young children and babies are frequently exposed to talc.

 Some of the most common talcum powder products include:

  • Adult body powder
  • Baby powder
  • Blush
  • Eyeshadow
  • Foundation

Just recently, the FDA found asbestos in children’s cosmetic products sold at Claire’s. While manufacturers don’t add asbestos to their products on purpose, inadequate regulations allow contaminated talc to make it onto store shelves.

Now that we know the dangers of talc, many advocates are calling for better legislation to protect consumers.

Fortunately, a new bill has been proposed to help parents avoid products that may contain cancer-causing asbestos. This bill, called the Children’s Product Warning Label Act, would require that talc-containing children’s products display a warning unless companies can prove that the product is free from asbestos.

Protecting Children From Harmful Products

While new regulations would help consumers avoid potentially dangerous talc, parents can do a lot to protect their children right now. Read ingredient lists — especially on cosmetic products — before buying anything.

Asbestos and talc are often found close together in underground deposits. This makes it easy for talc to become contaminated with asbestos during mining. Since it’s currently impossible for consumers to know which talc products contain asbestos and which are safe, it’s smart to steer clear of talc altogether.

Keep an eye out for talc listed as an ingredient and shop for products that use safer alternatives like cornstarch, arrowroot starch, or baking soda.

Parents should also avoid buying products that contain silica, a known lung carcinogen. Silica is an abundant, naturally occurring mineral found in soil, sand, and rock.  Most other naturally occurring minerals, including talc, contain some crystalline silica.

When inhaled, silica dust causes scar tissue to form, disrupting lung functioning and possibly leading to cancer. Consumers may be exposed to silica dust through the use of talcum powder.

Even talc that is free from asbestos or silica can be dangerous to babies and young children.

Inhaling talc powder may result in respiratory illness, lung damage, and chronic disease. Any loose powders or talc-based products that create a cloud of airborne dust will pose a risk to your children’s health.

Fortunately, women who have been exposed to talcum powder products and have since developed ovarian cancer may have a legal right to compensation from the product manufacturer.

Sources: 

Crystalline Silica. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/crystalline-silica.

Johnson, S. (2019, June 21). FDA finds asbestos in Claire’s product. Why are cosmetics barely regulated? Retrieved from https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/asbestos-cosmetics?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1.

Osmanski, S. (2019, March 28). Bill Proposes Warning Labels for Kids’ Cosmetics That Might Contain Asbestos. Retrieved from https://www.greenmatters.com/p/kids-cosmetics-asbestos-warning.

Talcum Powder and Cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/talcum-powder-and-cancer.html.

Children’s Product Warning Label Act of 2019, H.R. 1816, 116th Cong. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1816/all-info?r=1&s=1.

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