Concerns Rise Over Asbestos in Talc-Based Beauty & Cosmetic Products

With asbestos litigation being the longest, most expensive mass tort in American history, most people are familiar with the naturally occurring set of minerals, its known dangers, and the many laws regulating its use and abatement which exist today.

Although asbestos is perhaps most notably recognized for diseases like mesothelioma, its long latency (the time it takes for the disease to develop), and its impact on workers in many industrial settings, the scope of its impact on public health is much more expansive than many realize.

Asbestos has well-documented risks for adverse health problems – including asbestosis (a lung disease), diffuse pleural thickening, and various forms of cancer – and it can affect a variety of people, professions, and products – from building supplies and barber shops to beauty and cosmetic products.

Advocates, Regulators Look to Standardize Asbestos Testing in Cosmetics

Asbestos contamination in beauty and cosmetic products has become a major focus for safety advocates and regulators in recent years. Due to rising concerns, it was the subject of a recent FDA Public Meeting held on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at the FDA’s Campus in Silver Spring, MD.

The Meeting – “Testing Methods for Asbestos in Talc and Cosmetic Products Containing Talc” ­– discussed the science behind testing methodologies, terminology, and criteria that can be applied to characterize and measure asbestos and other potentially harmful elongate mineral particles (EMPs) which may exist in cosmetics made with talc (or talcum powder).

The ultimate goal for the FDA Public Meeting is to create more rigorous and standardized testing methods for asbestos and other particles in cosmetics and other consumer products which pose health concerns for the public. The motivations are clear:

Why Is There Asbestos in Cosmetic Products?

Asbestos finds its way into cosmetic products because there is a considerable lack of regulatory oversight and standardized testing involving cosmetic-grade talc – a clay mineral comprised of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Talc is used widely in consumer cosmetics – such as lipstick and foundation – to help absorb moisture.

Unless products containing talc are specifically tested for contamination, there is no way to know if it contains asbestos. As such, risks of asbestos contamination in talc and talc-based cosmetics is high.

Unfortunately, regulations over cosmetics are severely insufficient and outdated:

Though the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (now known as the Personal Care Products Council) encouraged its members in the cosmetics industry to use asbestos-free talc in products as far back as 1976, it’s still being found in makeup and other beauty supplies today. In a time when consumers have access to an array of new and seemingly ingenious cosmetic and beauty supplies, the need for modernizing cosmetics regulations in the U.S. and ensuring product safety is crucial.

With its Public Meeting, the FDA hopes to not only determine effective testing mechanisms – such as transmission electron microscope (TEM), which experts say is far better at detecting asbestos than X-ray diffraction (XRD) or polarized light microscopy (PLM) – a but also obtain input from scientists, attorneys, and industry insiders on regulating how manufacturers source, use, and test talc.

As of now, the FDA is asking cosmetics companies to voluntarily register products and list all ingredients – including talc.

Fighting for Victims of Asbestos Exposure

As a national trial practice with extensive experience in complex asbestos, mesothelioma, and toxic exposure claims, Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC believes consumers should never bear the burden of having to determine which products are free from potential contaminants – products made available to the public should arrive on shelves only after testing ensures they are safe.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Even if new regulations are eventually enacted, product manufacturers and corporations have proven their tendency to prioritize profits over people. This means protecting the public will rely not only on regulatory enforcement and compliance, but also aggressive litigation against manufacturers that fail to ensure the safety of their products.

At BCH, our Houston-based attorneys actively represent victims and families across Texas and the U.S. in a range of civil lawsuits involving asbestos exposure and product liability claims. We’re available 24/7 to discuss your potential case, and what options you may have. Call  or contact us online to request a FREE consultation.

Johnson & Johnson Faces Thousands of Lawsuits over a Product Containing Asbestos

In October of 2019, the Food and Drug Administration discovered a trace amount of asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. Though the product contained only “sub-trace levels” of asbestos contamination, Johnson & Johnson acted with “an abundance of caution” and immediately initiated a recall. The company claims its products are completely safe and rigorously tested on a regular basis, and they are working to determine if the specific bottle containing the asbestos was counterfeit, tampered with, or cross-contaminated.

Despite Johnson & Johnson’s insistence that consumers have nothing to worry about, the company is facing thousands of lawsuits and its shares have fallen 1.7%.

Why Are So Many Consumers Concerned About Asbestos?

Johnson & Johnson’s announcements regarding the recall include reassurances that the public is safe, claiming the amount of asbestos detected was minuscule, and therefore harmless. But the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine published a study on October 10th involving 33 patients with malignant mesothelioma, and the results provide powerful evidence suggesting a connection between this cancer and exposure to talcum powder containing asbestos.

Steve Gold, a professor at Rutgers Law School, specializes in toxic and hazardous substances. He sees this study as a significant source of ammunition for plaintiffs seeking to recover damages. “If a credible physician and researcher is willing to testify and has published that these individual cancers appear to be caused by asbestos exposure from talcum powder…that’s very powerful,” Gold says.

Mesothelioma is a rare but deadly cancer affecting the lining of internal organs. The World Health Organization is one of several public health groups that considers asbestos a human carcinogen, linked to ovarian and lung cancer in addition to mesothelioma. Supplies such as insulators and car parts typically contain this mineral. So does talcum powder, which is found in a variety of cosmetics and used as the main ingredient in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder.

Jacqueline Moline, a professor of occupational medicine, epidemiology, and prevention at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, is a co-author of the asbestos study. She says that “everything points to cosmetic talc being the cause” of malignant mesothelioma, because the only substantial exposure the 33 women in her study had to asbestos was their use of talcum powder.

Despite Johnson & Johnson’s insistence that their baby powder is safe to use, many consumers are not interested in taking the risk. Those who have the cancer are trying to hold the company accountable, and some have succeeded, such as a Californian who was awarded $29 million in March for the connection between her mesothelioma and the talcum-powder-based product. While some courts have sided with Johnson & Johnson, this new study may fuel the continued onslaught of lawsuits.

Have You Been Affected by a Defective or Dangerous Product?

When you purchase a product from a reputable and well-established company, you likely assume it will be safe to use. But even medical and pharmaceutical giants such as Johnson & Johnson are capable of error—or they may be motivated by money rather than your health and wellbeing. At Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC, our attorneys have decades of experience fighting on behalf of clients who were wronged by deceitful, greedy companies.

If you are going up against a corporate giant, we are the team you need. Call or contact us online to schedule your initial consultation.

Jury Clears J&J of Liability in California Lawsuit Over Baby Powder & Asbestos Cancer

Earlier this month, Big Pharma giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) scored a victory in its ongoing talcum powder litigation when a California jury rejected a woman’s claims that her cancer was caused by the company’s well-known baby powder.

The verdict, reached after a seven-week trial in Humboldt County, involved one plaintiff who claimed she developed mesothelioma, a rare and deadly form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure, after using J&J’s baby powder. Although the jury agreed she had been exposed to asbestos-tainted talcum powder, they stated it was not a substantial factor in causing her cancer.

Thousands of Talcum Powder Cancer Lawsuits Still Pending

While J&J may have prevailed in this particular case, the pharmaceutical company is still facing close to 12,000 pending lawsuits in the U.S. over its baby powder and other talc-based products. Over 9,000 of those cases involve claims over ovarian cancer. Some of the latest developments in the years-long litigation include:

J&J has been cleared of liability in three other mesothelioma cases, has had four mesothelioma cases result in mistrials (including a South Carolina case that ended in a deadlocked jury in early November), and has filed appeals in cases it has lost.

The company also continues to deny claims that its talcum-based products – including its signature baby powder, Shower to Shower powder, and others – cause cancer. According to plaintiffs and a number of scientific studies cited in these cases, however, women who use the company’s talc-based products and powders on a regular basis for feminine hygiene are 33% more likely to develop ovarian cancer than those who do not.

Have Questions About a Potential Talcum Powder Case?

If you believe you have a potential claim involving cancer that may have been caused by the use of J&J baby powder or other talcum powder products, you may have the right to seek financial compensation for your losses. J&J has been aggressive in its approach to battling talcum powder lawsuits, but the growing number of claims and scientific studies connecting talc-based products to higher risks of cancer provide strength and legitimacy to victims’ allegations.

As a nationally renowned law firm comprised of attorneys with significant experience representing victims and families harmed by defective products and dangerous pharmaceuticals, Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC is available to help you learn more about your rights and legal options. Contact us to speak with an attorney. Consultations are free and confidential.

Makeup Sold at Popular Youth Clothing Store Tested Positive for Asbestos

Researchers recently discovered that Just Shine Shimmer Powder makeup, sold at Justice, a national youth retail chain, tested positive for asbestos.

The Scientific Analytical Institute (SAI), based out of Greensboro, NC found that tremolite asbestos fibers contaminated the talc used in the product. Sean Fitzgerald, the Director of Research at SAI commented that the mineral reserve the talc was derived from should have been tested for this dangerous mineral, and that if it had been properly tested it would have never been cleared by the FDA.

"In this powder designed for children, they could die an untimely death in their 30s or 40s because of the exposure to asbestos in this product," said Fitzgerald.

Justice has since pulled the products from its shelves and stopped selling it through their website. They have also started an independent investigation into Just Shine Shimmer Powder.

"Fibers like this get into your breathing zone, and when you inhale, these fibers can get into the lung and go to the very bottom of the lung, and that is exactly where you have the greatest likelihood of asbestos to cause disease," Fitzgerald said. "Children should not be allowed to breathe it. If a 10-year-old inhaled this fiber today, when he's 50 years old, it's still there."

In addition to asbestos, SAI also discovered the presence of lead, selenium, chromium and barium in the product.

"The more lead you have in your system, the more negative health effects you're going to have," Fitzgerald explained. "Any amount of lead can be absorbed through the skin and go into your blood, and contribute to your overall poisoning of your blood."

Asbestos is an incredibly dangerous substance that still affects thousands of Americans every year. If you were diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer after being exposed to this deadly mineral, our Houston mesothelioma attorneys at Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC are waiting to hear your story. We have fought for the rights of injured victims for decades, and are committed to ensuring that each client we take on receives the knowledgeable and experienced representation they deserve in their time of need. Give us a call to speak with a member of our firm and learn what we can do to help you, or fill out our online form today to schedule your free consultation.

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Johnson & Johnson Hit with Another Talcum Powder Lawsuit

A new jury verdict in St. Louis resulted in Johnson & Johnson being ordered to pay a South Dakota woman $55 million regarding the connection between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. This is the most recent verdict after another St. Louis jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million in February to the family of a woman who died after using the company’s baby powder and other talc-containing products.

As expected, spokespeople for Johnson & Johnson have said they plan to appeal the most recent jury verdict.

Dr. Daniel Cramer of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston testified in the case and said,

<blockquote cite=>There have been about 20 epidemiologic studies suggesting an association. My advice has always been not to use talc on a regular basis in the genital area. And I haven't changed that opinion for 30 years.</blockquote>

The plaintiff in this case is 62-year-old woman, Gloria Ristesund, who claimed to use J&J baby powder for decades. In 2011, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. There are still thousands of cases regarding talc powder and the possible link to ovarian cancer.

At Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC, our product liability attorneys are well aware of the damages that may be caused by talc powder use. If you have developed ovarian cancer after using talc-containing powder for hygienic purposes, you may have the right to file a claim. We aim to protect the rights of victims who have suffered serious injuries or conditions as a result of a manufacturer’s oversight or negligence.

Call us today to discuss your potential claim and we can explain your rights and legal options moving forward. We offer free consultations so you don’t have to worry about expenses and you can still learn more about your case.

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Study Shows Links Between Talc Use and Ovarian Cancer Risks

Researchers at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center at Brigham and the Women’s Hospital in Boston conducted a study to determine the link between talcum powder usage and the risk of ovarian cancer. Results of the study show that women who use talcum powder on the genitals on a regular basis have a 33% chance at a higher risk of ovarian cancer.

There have been concerns regarding the use of talcum powder over the years, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not include it as a possible risk for ovarian cancer. In 2006, however, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer labeled talcum powder as a possible carcinogenic.

The author of this study has appeared as a paid expert to testify in various cases involving talcum powder, including the most recent case involving a $72 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson to the family of a decedent who used the company’s products for years.

Ovarian cancer is a serious condition. If it develops as a result of talcum powder use, it may be possible for the victim to file a claim against the manufacturer to hold them accountable and seek compensation.

At Bailey Cowan Heckaman PLLC, we are currently investigating claims against various manufacturers of products containing talc. If you or someone you know has used talc and developed a serious medical condition, contact our firm to discuss the possibility of a lawsuit. Our firm offers free consultations to discuss the details of your case and we can help determine the strongest possible strategy to help you.

Some of the most common manufacturers of talcum powder are Johnson & Johnson, Gold Bond, Clubman, Nivea, and McKesson. If you have used any of these products and you believe something may be wrong, check with a medical professional today.