For decades, talc or talcum powder was a cornerstone in personal care. People sprinkled perfumed talc on babies’ bottoms during diaper changes. They also liberally doused their own sweat-prone areas and feet. Unfortunately, it is now known that talc may contain cancer-causing agents. Despite this knowledge, contaminated talc is still being used in many self-care and cosmetic products.

What Are the Dangers of Talc Products?

Talcum is a naturally occurring mineral. It’s removed directly from the earth and refined for use in manufacturing. Contrary to what many believe, naturally occurring minerals aren’t always safe. This is certainly the case with asbestos which is also a naturally occurring mineral, and which happens to form near talc.

When talc is being mined by the companies that produce talcum products, it is often contaminated with asbestos. Given the unique way in which asbestos harms the body, even trace amounts of this mineral in talc make it potentially deadly.

Why Asbestos Is So Dangerous?

Asbestos is flame-resistant, heat-resistant, and enduring. For these and other reasons, it was once heavily used in both construction and product manufacturing. However, the same heat-resistant fibers that give asbestos its desirable properties can break away and become airborne. If these fibers are ingested or breathed in, they can lodge themselves in the airways, lungs, and protective lining of the stomach and other organs. Once in place, these particulates may cause tumors to form.

Although asbestos is no longer used in new construction, many people are still regularly encountering this dangerous material in the self-care and cosmetic products they use. When consumers liberally douse themselves with talc, they’re often breathing in asbestos fibers.

Illnesses Caused by Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos is known to cause several forms of cancer. Mesothelioma is one such cancer. It most commonly affects the chest and abdomen. This mineral is also associated with lung, ovary, and larynx cancers among others.

Why Do Companies Continue to Use Talc in Their Products?

Many companies assert that they’re able to mine talcum and refine it to be absolutely asbestos-free. However, the mining and refinement of talc are rarely handled by the same businesses that use it in their goods. Talc mining and refinement operations are often handled by separate companies. With this incredibly important work being passed from hand to hand, there is no way to guarantee that talcum is completely pure. When quality control measures fail, consumers are placed at risk. Studies of talc and talc products often find evidence of asbestos.

Which Types of Products Have Talc in Them?

Baby powder, foot powder, and body powder all have talc as their primary ingredient. When these products are used on the body, they send large plumes of potentially contaminated talcum into the air. If even only trace amounts of asbestos are present, dangerous asbestos fibers will be breathed in.

Asbestos-contaminated talc can also be present in many popular make-up products, including loose and pressed powders, eye shadow kits, bronzers, blush and face masks. Talcum can additionally be found in ceramics, certain paints, and crayons. Although the risk of breathing asbestos fibers in when using contaminated paints and crayons is exceedingly low, there’s still the risk of ingestion. Having a small toddler nibble on a crayon seems far less harmless when it’s known that these waxy writing implements may contain asbestos.

What to Do If You’ve Been Using Talc Products for Quite Some Time

Asbestos in talc can have a decades-long latency period. Cancers caused by asbestos exposure rarely develop right away. Instead, it may take 20 to 30 years before any resulting health problems arise. Thus, if you’ve been diagnosed with asbestos-related cancer, it’s always a good idea to contact a mesothelioma lawyer. Legal professionals who are familiar with asbestos-related illnesses can assist you in tracking down the most likely source. Lawyers who work in this practice area can also help their clients hold responsible companies accountable.

If you are still using talcum-based products, now is the time to stop. Many companies have replaced talcum with safer alternatives such as cornstarch, tapioca starch, and arrowroot starch. When shopping, look for items that are labeled as talc-free.

Despite its soft feel and often comforting fragrance, talc isn’t safe for everyday use. The risk of encountering talcum that’s contaminated with asbestos remains a real concern. Although talc itself isn’t dangerous, even trace amounts of asbestos within talcum could be deadly.