Asbestos in Baby Powder Exposure Risks


It’s hard to imagine anyone would endanger the world’s most vulnerable population, yet that’s exactly what many baby powder manufacturers continue to do. Asbestos can be found in talc, the leading ingredient in many baby powders, putting babies, their caregivers and talc miners at risk of developing deadly cancer.

Talc, or talcum, is a naturally occurring clay mineral mined from the earth. One of talc’s most common uses is in baby powder because of its ability to absorb moisture and prevent diaper rash. Talc also has commercial and food applications.

Asbestos in Baby Powder Explained

Many mines that collect talc also contain asbestos, a damaging fibrous mineral that has been linked to health risks like mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos has become heavily regulated within the United States, although it isn’t outright banned. It’s still possible for miners to come in contact with asbestos while mining for talc.

There are nearly a dozen talc mines across the United States, including in:

  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • New York
  • Montana

While asbestos-containing talc is typically acknowledged within industrial applications, there has been great controversy over whether it’s also used in food-grade and cosmetic talc, like baby powder.

J&J Notice

In April 2018, Johnson and Johnson lost a case that cost them $117 Million, when a man convinced a judge that their baby powder resulted in his asbestos-related cancer. Johnson and Johnson deny their baby powder has ever contained asbestos and is appealing the verdict.

Asbestos denial is a common theme among American talc mining companies, which all claim their cosmetic-grade talc does not contain asbestos.

Outside of the U.S., many countries have ignored the dangers of asbestos and have lax regulations, allowing asbestos-containing talc to be mined and used in baby powder. Though not common, it’s possible for baby powder with asbestos to be imported to the United States from these foreign countries.

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Exposure to asbestos has led to thousands of mesothelioma diagnoses. If you’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the Mesothelioma Justice Guide will help you understand your rights and know the next steps.

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Who Was Exposed to Asbestos in Baby Powder?

Miners and other manufacturing workers are most likely to be exposed to asbestos in baby powder. They work in close quarters with airborne talc for long hours and are prone to accidentally inhaling asbestos fibers—especially if safety protocols aren’t implemented or followed.

Miner’s family members, including spouses and children, may also be exposed to asbestos from particles getting trapped on the clothes and tools of the talc miner. Babies and their caregivers, including parents, siblings and daycare workers, are also at risk of asbestos exposure from contaminated baby powder.

Risks of Applying Baby Powder

Baby powder is typically applied by shaking talc powder directly onto a baby’s bottom and then rubbing it in. This shaking allows the powder’s particles to become airborne, while direct application to sensitive areas of the baby’s body may also cause health impacts.

If asbestos-containing baby powder is used for diaper rash, anyone in a contained room where that baby powder is routinely dispersed may be at risk of asbestos exposure.

Health Risks of Asbestos in Baby Powder

While scientists debate whether pure talc is a harmful substance when inhaled, there is no doubt that asbestos is deadly. Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer that is caused by the accidental inhalation of microscopic asbestos fibers. When asbestos becomes airborne, this inhalation can occur from simple natural breathing.

Inhaled fibers become lodged

Inhaled asbestos fibers sometimes become lodged in the body’s natural lining, the same way a javelin gets stuck in the ground. The body doesn’t have a system for removing these types of fibers and, as a mineral, asbestos doesn’t break down well over time. Instead, the asbestos fibers remain stuck in the body indefinitely.

Trapped fibers can trigger mutations in the surrounding cells. Cellular mutation is a slow but dangerous transformation, as healthy cells turn into cancerous mesothelioma cells. It’s the nature of mesothelioma cancer cells to spread throughout the body to distant organs.

Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer and nearly impossible to detect until it is in the late stages. By then, the cancer cells are hard to destroy, resulting in a high fatality rate for victims of the disease.

Access Asbestos Trust Funds

Compensation for treatment, loss of income and other damages is available through Asbestos Trust Funds. Workers with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses may qualify.

Find Out If You Qualify

Seeking Justice for Asbestos Exposure

It’s hard to imagine that something as innocuous as baby powder could harbor cancer-forming fibers, but that is the unfortunate reality of mining talc from areas that also contain asbestos. Many victims have developed mesothelioma after working with or using asbestos baby powder.

If you’re a victim of an asbestos-related disease, call our Justice Support Team today at (888) 360-4215. Or sign up to receive our FREE Mesothelioma Justice Guide to help you understand the next steps to take as a victim of mesothelioma.

View Author and Sources
  1. U.S. Geological Survey, “Directory of Companies Mining Talc in the United States in 2003.” Retrieved from Accessed on June 2, 2018.
  2. Reuters, “J&J Baby Powder litigation takes new focus with asbestos claims.” Retrieved from: Accessed on June 2, 2018.
  3. Reuters, “J&J defends itself in trial over baby powder asbestos claims.” Retrieved from Accessed on June 2, 2018.

Last modified: December 15, 2018