Johnson & Johnson, along with other companies, were handed a jury verdict for failing to warn consumers about possible health risks from baby powder use. The plaintiffs, a couple who alleged the wife’s pleural mesothelioma was contracted from baby powder use, were awarded $25.75 million by a California jury. As a frequent bowler, the plaintiff used the powder for years on her hands and in her shoes. She also was exposed to asbestos while watching her husband work on his car.
Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer almost always caused by exposure to asbestos.
Mining of talc
Talc and various forms of asbestos are often co-located, making the mining of talc without including asbestos in the final product, a difficult task. A study published in the “International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health,” October, 2014 showed asbestos fibers in the cosmetic talc samples tested. The types found were in various combinations of asbestiform anthophyllite, asbestiform tremolite, and chrysotile fibers. One specific, and unnamed, brand of cosmetic talcum powder was used in all tests.
“Our findings indicate that historic talcum powder exposure is a causative factor in the development of mesotheliomas and possibly lung cancers in women.”
Johnson & Johnson’s defense
The Johnson & Johnson company continues to assert that their products do not contain asbestos and will continue to fight in court.
Carol Goodrich, spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson said, “We are disappointed with the verdict and we will begin the appeals process. We will continue to defend the safety of our product because it does not contain asbestos or cause mesothelioma. Over the past 50 years, multiple independent, non-litigation driven scientific evaluations have been conducted by respected academic institutions and government bodies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and none have found that the talc in Johnson’s Baby Powder contains asbestos.”
David Greenstone, an attorney for the plaintiff stated, “We are extremely pleased that our clients have found a measure of justice, although nothing can truly compensate them for what they have lost. Our clients are hopeful that this verdict can further bring light to this unbelievable example of corporate misconduct.” Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder “has contained asbestos for decades. People need to know about this.”
Health risks from baby powder and other talc-based products
Lobbyists and employees of companies mining or using talc in their products continue to promote the safety of their products to both the government and consumers. However, talc may be present not only in talcum powder, but in eye shadow, blush, foundation, and many other cosmetic products to this day.
For safety’s sake, look for products marked talc free because according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “There is no ‘safe’ level of asbestos exposure for any type of asbestos fiber. Asbestos exposures as short in duration as a few days have caused mesothelioma in humans.”