Study: Lack Of Regulation Resulted In Talc Cosmetics Contaminated With Asbestos
A study published on November 24 found that talc-based cosmetics have been contaminated with asbestos because of a lack of regulation and adequate testing.
The study used transmission electron microscopy analysis which showed that three of the 21 cosmetics tested, or 14 percent, were contaminated with tremolite asbestos. One of the products, a toy makeup kit, was marketed to children. The two other products which tested positive for tremolite asbestos were eye shadow palettes. One of the eye shadow palettes also tested positive for actinolite asbestos.
The study concludes that with “nearly 15% of products contaminated in a small study, methods used by industries to screen talc supplies are not adequate.”
The study notes that because “of how and where talc is mined, mineral deposits used for manufacturing products sold in the US are consistently found to be contaminated with amphibole asbestos, such as tremolite and anthophyllite,” adding that asbestos is a carcinogen with no known safe level of exposure.
The study notes that a recent survey identified over 2,000 personal care products sold from 2018 to 2020 containing talc; 57% of the products are powder products which “pose an increased risk of inhalation hazards,” according to the study.
The study states that the FDA does not require mandatory testing of talc and that current voluntary screening methods are ineffective.
The study notes three methods of screening talc for asbestos:
X-ray diffraction: A rapid technique, but lacks adequate specificity and sensitivity.
Transmission electron microscopy: The most sensitive method, but is time-consuming and expensive.
Polarized light microscopy: The standard method of asbestos screening, but might not be sensitive enough for materials with a low percentage of asbestos and thus should be used alongside TEM.
The study notes that the FDA recently formed a group which has recommended using a combination of polarized light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy for asbestos screening.
The study notes that there is no one specific written method for testing asbestos in consumer products, arguing that it is critical for such a method which routinely employs transmission electron microscopy to be developed.
The study states that powder makeup application to the face is an inhalation risk, yet the FDA doesn’t specify how inhalation exposure should be assessed.
Numerous lawsuits now accuse talcum powder manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson of selling talc-based products despite knowing and concealing the cancer risks associated with them.