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Asbestos Products: 20% of Talc-Based Cosmetics Samples

asbestos products in talc-based cosmetics

On March 9, 2020, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) released a report of a one-year study that tested talc-based cosmetic products for the presence of asbestos. The report confirmed results taken from 52 samples collected over one year. Tests found that 9 out of 52 samples taken from talc-based cosmetic products, for sale in the United States, contained asbestos fibers and were therefore asbestos products.

Talc And Asbestos Are Both Silicate Minerals

Talc and asbestos are silicate minerals found naturally in the earth. The two minerals are both similar in texture and composition. Unfortunately, all types of asbestos mineral fibers are carcinogenic. Even though talc minerals are non-carcinogenic, the drawback is that asbestos mineral fibers can be found naturally inside some talc mineral deposits. To clarify, not all talc mineral resources are contaminated or blended with asbestos minerals, but studies have shown that, on occasion, mining sites can contain asbestos.

Talc-Contained Products Used In Various Consumer Products

Talc mineral products are used in a variety of personal care, food, and cosmetics products. Talc is a natural moisture absorber that helps, improve the texture of products, and prevents products from solidifying or blocking. Many items, such as baby powder, blush, and make-up foundations, utilize talc as a main or primary ingredient. For all of the benefits, talc products contain the potential threat of natural contamination in talc mineral deposits that supply the talc-based product markets, could be endangered because of asbestos contamination.

Asbestos Exposure Can Cause Mesothelioma Cancer

The danger with asbestos fibers, a natural carcinogen, is the harmful effects that primary or secondary exposure from the mineral fibers have on human health. Asbestos exposure can cause or enhance lung disease, lung cancer, and mesothelioma cancer. Mesothelioma cancer alone is generated solely from asbestos exposure. These harmful effects of asbestos occur all over the world. Still, studies have shown that, on average, over 3,000 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer every year here in the United States.

FDA Sample Tests Examined The Presence Of Asbestos In Talc-Based Cosmetic Products

The FDA’s assigned sampling test, to monitor and report the incidence of asbestos presence in talc-based cosmetic products, was performed to analyze the safety of talc-based cosmetic product usage here in the United States. Over the years, sample tests taken in the United States produced results that found traces of asbestos in random talc-based consumer products, which at times brought the public to question the overall safety of using talc-based products. In turn, unadulterated talc tests reported that talc or talcum powder was not a contributor to cancer or other harmful effects toward human health.

FDA Committed To Keep Consumers Safe

The one-year test was administered by AMA Analytical Services, Inc., with the help of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The FDA chose AMA Analytical Services after successfully conducting and completing other projects for the agency. Proponents of the testing and FDA agency both agree that continual testing needs to happen to ensure that cosmetic products and other consumer products are safe.

“The FDA is committed  to keeping consumers safe from potentially contaminated cosmetic products. As part of this effort, in September 2018, the agency awarded AMA Analytical Services, Inc. (AMA) a one-year contract to test certain talc-containing cosmetic products for the presence of asbestos. We have taken and will continue to take swift action when we determine a cosmetic product is not safe.

Specific talc-based cosmetic product sampling tests were performed by using Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM), and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) for detecting and calculating quantities of mineral particles in the samples suspect to be asbestos products. PLM is a technique that employs the use of polarizing filters to obtain substantial optical property information about the material which is being observed.

This information can be combined with other microscopy techniques to confirm or elucidate the identity of an unknown material, determine whether a particular contaminant is present (as with asbestos analysis), or to provide valuable information that can be used to refine a manufacturing or chemical process. Also, PLM is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a method for analyzing asbestos.

(PLM) And (TEM) Test Methods Used

The use of Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) was also employed to analyze the sample specimens further. Currently, TEM is the most sensitive test method for the detection and quantification of asbestos minerals. This method can observe particles with higher magnification and resolution than light microscope applications, such as PLM. Sample resolution images are also more capable than electron microscopes because they can only view the surface of most samples.

Although TEM methods can be more useful for viewing individual specimens, the setup for sample testing would require more time to prepare and administer. Due to the sample preparation and division necessary to ready the material or substance for examination, TEM would be an alternative or additional study method aside from the primary method used typically used in the asbestos analysis, which is PLM.

Random Samples Of Various Cosmetics Tested for Asbestos Products

The talc-based cosmetic product sample tests were taken from lower, and higher-end priced products, items advertised in publications and on social media sites, children’s products, and various products reported to contain asbestos. These sample tests performed and recorded do not reflect the overall talc-based product percentage of the presence of asbestos in consumer talc-containing cosmetic products sold in the United States.

The tests were done to monitor and evaluate asbestos presence within the randomly selected talc-based samples. These random tests were initiated by the FDA to help formulate, examine, and implement more effective methods or safeguards to protect consumers. All in all, there were 52 individual products selected at random and sampled for testing. Out of all the products tested, nine items tested positive for containing asbestos. Known details of brand names such as Claire’s, City Color, and Johnson’s, were found to have asbestos in those specific samples drawn for testing. Upon further review, two particular Claire’s product labeled items brought for sample testing showed asbestos contamination in PLM and TEM sample test methods.

FDA Notified The Public About Asbestos Contamination

In cases involving positive tests that concern asbestos contamination in consumer goods that include cosmetic or food products, the FDA will customarily notify the public. When the FDA received test results from the samples that tested positive for asbestos, the agency immediately ensured the companies affected, and the public was notified. Also, the companies who recalled the products are offered assistance to help develop or implement the recall strategy and monitor the progress of the recall by the FDA. On another note, the FDA does not have the authority to order a recall, but the agency does play an active role in assisting with the guidance and effectiveness  of the product[s] recalled.

FDA Sample Testing And Monitoring Will Be Continued

Going forward, the FDA is planning to continue talc sample testing throughout 2020. So far, 50 samples will be blind tested by AMA Analytical Services, Inc., the company that performed the first batch of talc-based cosmetic product sample tests. The results will be released upon completion around the first part of 2021. If asbestos positive test samples are found, the FDA will once again work closely with the companies involved to help streamline the removal of those products from shelves and make sure the public is informed about the results of their findings.

Asbestos Found in Talc-Based Products In The Past

Although asbestos contamination in cosmetic products is rare, there are confirmed cases of talc-based cosmetic products that had life-long consumers who developed onset mesothelioma from the usage of those products. Exposure to asbestos is nothing to take lightly. If you or a loved one believe that you may be suffering from the harmful effects of exposure to asbestos through the use of talc-based cosmetic or consumer products, please do not hesitate to contact an experienced asbestos or mesothelioma attorney.

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