A recent verdict awarded $72 million to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer, allegedly due to using Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder for feminine hygiene. That award, along with the talcum powder litigation in general, has sparked questions about the safety of talcum-based and other J&J products. According to DNA India, the country’s National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) asked chief secretaries of five states in India to test J&J’s baby powder and shampoo for asbestos, formaldehyde and other “hazardous chemicals”.
According to DNA, Johnson & Johnson denies receiving any inquiry about its baby powder and shampoo from India’s child protection agency. The company asserts its products are safe.
NCPCR sent a May 17th request asking the states “to collect samples of Johnson & Johnson baby powder and shampoo…forward the samples to a NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) accredited government laboratory only for testing the composition of sample.” according to DNA. The child care agency said the probe should focus on the “presence of asbestos (in powder) and formaldehyde (in shampoo) or any other hazardous chemical”.
According to government agencies such as the United States National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, formaldehyde is classified as a human carcinogen.
Mineral talc is the main component of talcum powder, which is commonly found in many personal care products to absorb moisture and reduce friction. In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos. As such, talc that has asbestos may cause cancer if it is inhaled, according to the American Cancer Society. Talcum powder products have been asbestos-free in the United States since the 1970s.