Asbestos & Talcum Powder

Contaiminated talc can cause mesothelioma

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What is Talcum powder?

Talcum powder is composed of talc, a soft mineral made of hydrated magnesium silicate. It can be green, white or gray and has a texture that feels like soap. 

Manufacturers grind talc into an ultrafine powder, which is well-known for its ability to absorb moisture and reduce friction. Talcum powder has been widely used as a main ingredient in baby powder, some cosmetics, and many deodorants due to its desirable properties. These properties help prevent chafing and mask odors.

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The Dangers of Talcum Powder

The dust from talcum powder is known to irritate the respiratory system, leading to coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has shown a correlation between mesothelioma and the use of cosmetic talc. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled talc as potentially dangerous and that its use is hazardous to humans. 

The problem lies in that talc and asbestos can naturally form close together, so much so that it is nearly impossible to separate them during the mining process. Not every talc deposit contains asbestos, but it contaminates most of them. It is well documented that talc deposits often contain the most toxic forms of asbestos, such as tremolite or anthophyllite. Both of these are far more carcinogenic than chrysotile, the most common type of asbestos. 

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Potential health risks associated with Talc

The potential health risks from using talcum powder are numerous. Complications can arise from both uncontaminated talcum powder and talc contaminated with asbestos. Inhalation and direct perineal application can pose dire health risks. 

Those most at risk include users of talcum powder and those workers that were exposed during talc production or industrial use. 

The potential health risks from talcum powder include:

Lung Cancer

There have been excess cases of lung cancer in miners who worked in talc mines. 


Asbestos is the only cause of mesothelioma. Contaminated talc has been linked to numerous mesothelioma cases. 

Ovarian Cancer

Studies have shown a link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder users. 

Talcosis or Talc Pneumoconiosis

A pulmonary disorder, though lesser known, has been linked to the mining and milling of asbestos-contaminated talc and cosmetic talc products.

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Talcum Powder and Mesothelioma

Talcum powder contaminated with asbestos can cause mesothelioma as well as other asbestos-related cancers. 

A mesothelioma diagnosis is often related to a variety of factors, including frequency and duration of exposure. The risk is dose-dependent, meaning the longer the duration of use, the higher the levels of asbestos exposure. Long-term exposure with low-level asbestos concentrations and even short-term exposure with high-level asbestos concentration can result in a cancer diagnosis.

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Who is at risk of exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc?

People of all ages and walks of life are at risk of exposure from asbestos-contaminated talc. It is more commonly associated with baby powder, children’s toys, and cosmetics. 

Those at risk from asbestos-contaminated talc include:

Talc was used as a filler in many ceramics – it improved thermal shock resistance and offered additional strength after the firing process.

Hairdressers, barbers, and even family members are at risk of exposure from the cosmetic-grade talcum powder used after haircuts to prevent chafing and irritation.

barber and talc

crayonsMany children’s toys such as crayons, modeling clay, and amateur crime lab kits contained asbestos-contaiminated talc. Children’s makeup sold at Justice and Claire’s was found to be contaimed as well. 

Asbestos-contaminated talc was prolific and a risk to adult consumers in products such as cosmetics, personal care products, body powders, and shaving products.


paint canTalc is an ingredient in some paints as it offers a layer of weather and corrosion resistance. 

Workers in talc mines and mills faced the highest levels of exposure as they worked with the raw form of the mineral, which carried the highest level of associated asbestos. 

talc mining

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Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Problems

For decades, Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) held the top spot in the talcum powder industry, particularly with its well-known baby powder line. Consumers of all ages consistently relied on baby powder and other talc-based products.

J&J currently has thousands of lawsuits alleging its talc caused cancer. Court documents have shown that J&J was well aware that its baby powder products contained asbestos, but they kept that information hidden from regulators and the public. From 1972-1975, three different lab tests had found asbestos in its talc; and while company executives, managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers scrambled to come up with a solution, those who needed to know were kept in the dark. It is shown that as early as 1957, labs had found J&J talc contaminated by asbestos. 

It wasn’t until 2020 that J&J announced it would stop selling its talc-based baby powder in the U.S. and Canada. It would replace talc with a cornstarch-based version. In 2022, it expanded that halt of sales worldwide. 

As of 2024, there are an estimated 54,000 lawsuits against J&J (JNJ), and the company is attempting a $6.475 billion settlement to resolve all suits. 

Vogelzang Law has found enormous success fighting for our clients. Our most recent talcum powder lawsuit victory resulted in a jury verdict of $45,000,000 for our client. 

asbestos fibers

Additional Products Containing Asbestos-Contaminated Talc

Some talc products containing asbestos have included personal hygiene products, cosmetics, children’s toys and makeup, cleaning products, and other industrial products. 

In 2019, the FDA found asbestos in nine of 52 personal hygiene and makeup products. Another litigation investigation between 1948-2017, found 66% of 1,032 cosmetic talc products contained asbestos.

Companies with asbestos-contaminated products include:

  • Beauty Plus Global Inc.
  • Chanel
  • Claire’s
  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • Imerys Talc America Inc.
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Justice
  • Shulton Co. (now owned by Procter & Gamble)
  • Vanderbilt Minerals
  • Whittaker, Clark & Daniels


Contamination levels have ranged from trace amounts to significant levels reaching 50% or more.

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Talc in Makeup

Many cosmetics not only contain talcum powder, but cosmetic-grade talc, which is 98% pure talc. This includes foundation, cream, moisturizers, eye shadow, blush, and mascara. 

Makeup brands that have tested positive for asbestos include:

  • Beauty Glazed Gorgeous Me Eye Shadow Tray Palette
  • City Color Cosmetics Timeless Beauty Palette
  • Claire’s Rainbow Glitter Heart-Shaped Makeup Set
  • Claire’s Pink Glitter Palette with Eyeshadow & Lip Gloss
  • JoJo Siwa Makeup Set
  • Justice Just Shine Shimmer Powder
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Talc in industrial products

Industrial-grade talc is used in many modern products, including paint and glazes, to increase adhesion and texture. The paper industry also uses talc to reduce surface friction and enhance printability. Many wastewater treatment plants use talc to purify water. 

Some industrial products containing asbestos-contaminated talc include:

  • Anti-caking agent in animal feed
  • Artware and finishing glazes
  • Ceramic toilets, sinks and tiles
  • Clay and pottery
  • Crayons and chalk
  • Electrical cables and switchboards
  • Household appliances
  • Jointing compounds, putties, and adhesives
  • Paper and ink products
  • Plastic and rubber automotive parts
  • Rubber gloves
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Significant Talc Litigation

There have been many talc-related lawsuits from plaintiffs who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses after exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc products. 

Some signification talc verdicts include:

  • Avon – A California jury ordered Avon and a forklift company to pay $52.1 million to Rita-Ann Chapman in 2022. She alleged the life-long use of Avon products exposed her to asbestos and caused her to develop mesothelioma. 
  • Cashmere Bouquet – In 2015, Colgate Palmolive was ordered to pay $13 to a woman who developed mesothelioma after constant use of Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder. 
  • Desert Flower – In 2017, Florence Nemeth was awarded $16.5 million, claiming she developed peritoneal mesothelioma after using Desert Flower Dusting Powder. Whittaker, Clark & Daniels were ordered to pay the $16.5 million, though the verdict was later overturned by a New York high court.
  • Imerys & Vanderbilt – In 2017, Imerys Talc America and Vanderbilt Minerals were ordered to pay $22 million to the estate of a man who had died from mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc used to make paint.
  • Johnson & Johnson – J&J has paid out billions in a single mass tort lawsuit and millions in individual cases. All cases were over asbestos contamination in its baby powder or Shower to Shower products. Vogelzang Law recently secured a jury verdict of $45 million for our client. J&J is currently attempting to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid a $6.475 billion settlement bid to resolve all of its talc litigation. 
  • Old Spice – Whittaker, Clark & Daniels were ordered to pay $4.8 million to Willie McNeal Jr. in 2021. He claimed he developed mesothelioma after 20 years of using Old Spice talcum powder. In 2016, Whittaker was ordered by a jury to pay Philip Depoian $18 million after he developed mesothelioma. He used Old Spice talcum powder and other brands at his father’s barbershop. 
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