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FDA: Almost 20% of talc-based cosmetics contain asbestos

Laboratory tests recently commissioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that 20% of talc-based cosmetics sampled contained asbestos. There were nine positive test results out of 52 cosmetics products tested.

The testing was performed by AMA Analytical Services, Inc., which is a leading laboratory for testing talc products for asbestos contamination.

"A .200 batting average in baseball is borderline bad, but it's downright deplorable when it comes to asbestos in cosmetics," commented a spokesperson for the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

Asbestos, a naturally occurring fiber, is often found in similar locations to talc, which is also a mineral. There have been allegations that talc is routinely mined near asbestos and is sometimes contaminated. This is the basis for numerous lawsuits against the makers of talc-based products, including over 16,000 lawsuits involving Johnson & Johnson's baby powder.

Asbestos causes cancer in humans, including mesothelioma, a rare but deadly malignancy exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure.

According to an analysis of federal mortality data, approximately 15,000 Americans die every year from asbestos-related diseases.

Previous research has led to concern that talc-based cosmetics may routinely be contaminated by asbestos. That includes products aimed at children. Nearly any kind of powdered cosmetic can contain talc and therefore asbestos, such as:

  • Face powder
  • Baby powder
  • Powdered blush
  • Bronzer
  • Eye shadow
  • Children's toy makeup sets

Now, new legislation in the House of Representatives could require cosmetics manufacturers to prove that any cosmetics marketed to children are asbestos-free. If they could not do so, the product would have to carry a warning label. The bill would require manufacturers to use the same rigorous methodology employed by AMA Analytical Services.

The testing of talc-based cosmetics for asbestos contamination isn't over. The FDA is planning to send 50 popular products to AMA for testing this year.

Asbestos in talc is a serious issue, and the contamination is common enough that all manufacturers of talc-based cosmetics and home care products should be ensuring their talc is asbestos-free. The public deserves to know if this dangerous mineral fiber is in their cosmetics, potentially exposing them to the risk of cancer.

Have you developed cancer after routinely using cosmetics? If you have reason to believe that you have been exposed to asbestos, the first thing to do is get the medical care you need. Then, discuss your situation with an attorney experienced in product liability law. You may have legal options.

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