Talc is the most delicate mineral on earth. It is used in industrial and consumer products. Talc powder is the most commonly used consumer talc. Finely crushed talc is valued for its ability to absorb moisture and provide lubrication at the same time. People have been using talcum powder for drying, protecting and perfuming the skin for over a century. Can talcum powder cause lung cancer?
What is talc powder?
Talcum talc is made of talc, a naturally occurring mineral extracted from rock deposits. Talc is the most delicate mineral known. Hydrated magnesium silicate is its chemical name.
After fine grinding, talc creates a smooth and silky powder that absorbs moisture, reduces odors and reduces friction. These properties make it the perfect ingredient for baby powder, deodorant, makeup and hundreds of other consumer products.
Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder is one of the best-known talc powder products. A basic household product for over 125 years, it is widely used in infants to prevent diaper rash. Millions of women also use baby powder as part of their daily feminine hygiene.
Talc and mesothelioma
Current research indicates that pure talc does not cause mesothelioma. But talc, which is contaminated with asbestos and asbestos minerals, has led to the development of mesothelioma.
- Places used: Personal hygiene products and industrial products
- Toxicity: high
- Asbestos use Prohibited: No.
- Fragile: yes
In 2019, a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine presented case studies of 33 people with mesothelioma whose only exposure to asbestos was asbestos-contaminated talc powder.
The term “asbestos” refers to six different minerals. The term “asbestiform” refers to minerals with a crystal structure that resembles asbestos and has similar properties to asbestos. Examples of asbestos minerals include erionite, richterite, winchite and taconite.
Geologically talc and asbestos can naturally form side by side. Not every talcum deposit is contaminated with asbestos. Those that are contaminated contain tremolite or anthophyllite, both forms of amphibol asbestos, not chrysotile, which is the serpentine form of asbestos.
Like talc, mineral vermiculite often forms with asbestos and asbestos minerals. The infamous vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, has been contaminated with tremolite asbestos and asbestos minerals – richterite and winchite.
Whether or not talc contains asbestos has everything to do with its geological source. If talc deposits contain asbestos or asbestos minerals, products made from this talc are probably contaminated with asbestos.
Different talc species may contain contaminants with varying degrees of asbestos contamination. Medical grade talc contains about 99 percent talc and is used in a procedure called talc pleurodesis to treat pleural effusion caused by mesothelioma. Talc used in medicine is a special type of talc, supposedly devoid of asbestos, which is sterilized before use.
Cosmetic talc accounts for about 98 percent of pure talc.
Filing a lawsuit
If you think your cancer may be associated with talc use, you should talk to a lawyer. The jury awarded billions to people who were injured by talcum products. You may also be entitled to compensation.
Claims for talcum powder may also be made by family members of women who have died of ovarian cancer associated with the use of talcum powder. Most states allow a person to make an unfounded death claim on his wife, mother, or daughter.