Certain cosmetic talc products test positive for asbestos, a contaminant known to cause mesothelioma. A study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine underscores the link between cosmetic talc and this rare form of cancer.

Researchers studied 64 females and 11 males who have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Each of the 75 subjects confirmed that their only exposure to asbestos came in the form of repeated exposure to cosmetic talcum powder. Medical researchers checked 11 of the subjects for the presence of asbestiform fibers, and in all cases, anthophyllite and/or tremolite asbestos appeared.  From this evidence, the study concluded that:

  • Exposure to cosmetic talcum powders can be followed by the development of mesotheliomas.
  • One can attribute the development of mesotheliomas in these cases to the existence of anthophyllite and tremolite asbestos found in cosmetic talcum powder.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate cosmetic talc products. However, the agency, along with the World Health Organization (WHO), maintains that there is “no known safe level of asbestos exposure.”

For this reason, the FDA has expressed a commitment to protecting consumers from cosmetics that may contain asbestos contaminants. In 2018, the federal agency contracted with AMA Analytical Services (AMA) to test various cosmetic products for asbestos.

The FDA released AMA’s final report following a year’s worth of testing. The group found that 43 of the test samples were negative for asbestos, while nine demonstrated the presence of these contaminants. In the fall of 2019, the agency issued a public statement warning consumers about the AMA’s research findings.


Cosmetic Talc Products of Which Samples Contained Asbestos

The FDA/AMA research efforts, which will continue through 2020, have already generated responsive action in the form of recalls from cosmetic talc manufacturers.

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (JJCI) announced in October 2019 that it was initiating a voluntary recall of a single lot of its Johnson’s Baby Powder, a precautionary response to a sample of the product showing levels of chrysotile asbestos.

Beauty Plus Global also recalled several of its cosmetic products that tested positive for asbestos after the FDA advised consumers not to use the products. These products include Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Collection Matte Blush (Fuchsia); Timeless Beauty Palette; Bronzer (Sunset; Global Contour Effects Palette 2; and Shimmer Bronzer (Caramel).

Finally, Claire’s voluntarily recalled its JoJo Siwa Makeup Set, also found to contain asbestos.

Consumers should check the FDA website to see if their cosmetic products match the brands and batch numbers from which samples tested positive for asbestos.

SOURCES:

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339952731_Malignant_mesothelioma_following_repeated_exposures_to_cosmetic_talc_A_case_series_of_75_patients
  2. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-recalls-alerts/fda-advises-consumers-stop-using-certain-cosmetic-products
  3. https://www.fda.gov/safety/recalls-market-withdrawals-safety-alerts/johnson-johnson-consumer-inc-voluntarily-recall-single-lot-johnsons-baby-powder-united-states
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Sara Stephens is a freelance writer who has developed a hefty portfolio of work across several industries, with a strong emphasis on law, technology, and marketing. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, as well as various technology and consumer publications, both print and online. Sara also works as a freelance book editor, having developed and edited manuscripts for bestselling and novice authors alike, and as a verbal strategist for a Miami branding consultancy.