Talcum powder (also known as baby powder) is made of talc, a mineral consisting of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. Talc is obtained through mining mineral deposits, which are often inter-mingled with deposits of a type of asbestos known as asbestiform tremolite. Asbestos is most dangerous when it is friable, meaning that it is powdery or crumbles easily, producing tiny inhalable fibers. Because talcum powder is a fine powdery substance, any asbestos contamination would by its nature be considered friable. Fortunately, consumer baby powder products currently sold in the United States are asbestos free. Consumers who made frequent use of talcum powder prior to the early 1980’s, as well as those who worked in or around talc mines, may have been exposed to dangerous asbestos fibers.
Talcum Powder and Cancer
Asbestos may also cause cancers in other parts of the body. A 1997 study found that women who regularly applied talcum powder to their bikini region were more likely than others to develop ovarian cancer. Because the study was conducted on women ranging in age from 20 to 79, some participants would have used asbestos contaminated talc while others would not. Later studies have been unable to show a direct causal link, however researchers have determined a slight increase in the incidence of reproductive cancers in women who frequently applied talcum powder.
Talc Miners and Asbestos Exposure
Talc miners and their families were often unaware of the risks posed by deposits of asbestiform tremolite, which are common in talc mines. Until 1981, a New York State County where talc mining was a major industry had the highest rate of mesothelioma in the United States, for both men and women. A 2002 study found that “New York talc exposure is associated with mesothelioma, and deserves further public health attention.” Talc mines that once operated in Death Valley, California have also been found to be widely contaminated with asbestos. The RT Vanderbilt Corporation maintains that modern industrial grade talc mined from New York State does not contain asbestos.
Have You or a Loved One Been Harmed by Asbestos? There is Help
Although some of the risks of asbestos exposure were understood as early as the 1930s, mine owners and manufacturers did not take proper steps to prevent asbestos exposure prior to the early 1970s. If you or a loved one suffers from an asbestos-related illness, whether from talc exposure or another cause, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Bergman Draper Oslund today, for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.