Talc, the main ingredient in talcum powder has been targeted by an environmental advocacy group that claims its presence in children’s toys poses a serious health risk to children.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducted tests on a series of children’s toys and discovered that those containing talc tested positive for asbestos. The results have raised concerns from two U.S. senators following a report released by EWG.
The talc that has been linked to asbestos in the children’s toys is the same substance that is at the center of hundreds of lawsuits around the country aimed at the manufacturers of talcum powder for research linking the product to the development of ovarian cancer. Attorneys representing plaintiffs in these lawsuits claim that the cancer-causing mineral talc, which is oftentimes mined in the presence of asbestos, significantly increases the risk of contracting ovarian cancer in women who use the product regularly.The talc research conducted by EWG found that children’s products that included talc as an ingredient also had fibers of asbestos in the toys. The specific products named in the testing were crayons and the contents of crime lab kits for children. EWG has called for the use of talc in all children’s toys to be banned. The research notes that talc and asbestos occur naturally in close proximity to each other, and that the inability to effectively separate the two should result in a ban as there is no safe level of asbestos that can harmlessly contribute to a person’s health.
“Children’s playtime should be filled with fun, not asbestos,” Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in their letter to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission that called for the agency to ban the use of talc in children’s products.
The FDA called for a similar ban on asbestos in talcum powder in 1973, hoping to stem the cancerous connection the product had with its inclusion of the dangerous mineral. However, the FDA never completely regulated the talcum powder industry, only giving the order to limit the asbestos in the product. However, removing all asbestos fibers from talc has proved more difficult than the FDA may have anticipated.
Talcum powder lawsuits have been filed around the country claiming that manufacturers of the product, namely Johnson & Johnson, did not adequately warn consumers of the cancerous risk incurred when using talcum powders. Plaintiffs have claimed that given the decades of talcum powder research that has been conducted leading up the latest series of lawsuits, those responsible for administering warning labels were well aware of the risks posed by talcum powder and didn’t act on making that information available for consumers to protect the marketability of the product.