Asbestos in Cosmetics: What You Need to Know

Years ago, the effects of asbestos on the human body were still relatively unknown. Since that time, the carcinogenic nature of asbestos to humans has been widely publicized, resulting in much wider awareness of the dangers that can result from exposure, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other forms of cancer.

Though the use of asbestos in consumer products has been greatly limited, it is still relatively common for people to associate asbestos with these uses, such as in housing insulation, building materials, and insulated machine parts used in a variety of applications.

Fewer people are aware that the use of asbestos also still occurs in other types of products - some of which are even more commonly found in our everyday lives. One example is cosmetic products, our topic for today.

Asbestos in Cosmetic Products

Asbestos is a mineral that is inexpensive and has properties, including heat resistance, that make it appealing to manufacturers. Before its dangers were widely known, it could be found in items as wide-ranging as building products, insulating products on ships, hair dryers, and cigarette filters, just to name a few.

While many dangerous uses have been eliminated, some people wrongly believe that asbestos has been completely banned in the United States. It hasn’t, and sometimes turns up in unusual places.

For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioned tests of cosmetic products containing talc, a benign mineral common in powder-form make-ups like eyeshadow, foundation, and even children’s makeup. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), nine of the 52 cosmetic products tested also contained asbestos. That’s more than 17 percent of the items tested, which certainly gives cause for concern.

The Dangers of Asbestos in Cosmetics

According to Insider, a research pathologist from Mount Sinai Hospital believes that cosmetics with asbestos create a health risk. Asbestos becomes dangerous when particles become airborne, enabling them to enter the lungs and cause cancer and other illnesses. Facial powders put airborne particles in immediate contact with your mouth and nose, making them especially dangerous if they contain asbestos.

Because of this risk, recalls of talc-based products have occurred. For example, the FDA reports that in October 2019, Johnson & Johnson recalled baby powder. Similarly, the Agency reports that on September 6, 2019, Beauty Plus Global recalled four cosmetic products. Finally, Claire’s Stores, Inc. has taken part in voluntary recalls of certain cosmetic products due to asbestos concerns.

The Status of Johnson & Johnson Talc Litigation

As mentioned above, Johnson & Johnson has faced some of the most high-profile problems with litigation claiming that victims have been harmed by the presence of asbestos in certain J&J talc products.

For example, in 2018, a jury in Missouri awarded 22 plaintiffs $4.69 billion. The plaintiffs claimed that J&J’s talc powder caused their ovarian cancer. A Missouri appellate court reduced the award to $2.11 billion, which is still quite substantial. Bloomberg is now reporting that the company recently agreed to pay more than $100 million to settle in excess of 1,000 lawsuits. The company states that it still has approximately 21,800 ongoing talc lawsuits.

Call with Questions

If you fear you have been exposed to asbestos, or if you have developed an illness as a result of known exposure, we know you will likely have many questions. One of the asbestos and mesothelioma attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield will be happy to answer them.

Our lawyers believe that the legal system plays a key role in protecting society through accountability. We represent victims all over Oregon and take pride in helping to make sure that those who have caused harm and suffering with their wrongful acts are made to answer for their actions. Please call for a free consultation.


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