Talcum Powder as a Cause of Mesothelioma

In October 2014, the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (IJOEH) published a study in which a specific brand of talc was analyzed at four different labs.The study found that talcum powder coming from asbestos contaminated mines can find its way into consumer talcum powder that can be inhaled during use and cause or be a contributing cause of mesothelioma. In 1976, Rohl and Langer tested 20 consumer products labeled as talc or talcum powder, including body powders, baby powders, facial talc, and pharmaceutical talc. Of the 20 products tested, 10 were found to contain asbestos.

Asbestos has been determined to be the primary cause of mesothelioma. The source of talc used in the products studied by the authors of the IJOEH study were three mines from three distinct regions: Montana, North Carolina, and Italy. These three mines all contained asbestos fibers. The connection between talc and asbestos involves the close proximity of the two minerals on the earth’s surface. Tremolite, which is one type of asbestos, is often found in talc.

In 2015 a Los Angeles jury rendered a $13 million verdict in favor of a woman after it determined that she developed mesothelioma from asbestos in Colgate-Polmolive’s Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder. In 2016, another Los Angeles jury rendered an $18 million verdict to a man who claimed that the talcum powder products used at the barbershop where his father worked exposed him to asbestos, which caused him to have mesothelioma. The lawsuit accused Whittaker, Clark & Daniels, the supplier of talc for such products as Desert Flower Old Spice, and Friendship Garden in the 1960s and ’70s, of failing to adequately test for traces of asbestos.

No amount of exposure to asbestos is considered safe. Asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma whether it develops in the lining of the lungs or in the lining of the abdomen. The later form of meso is called peritoneal mesothelioma and is often misdiagnosed as ovarian cancer.

The latency period for mesothelioma can range from 10-50 years.