Posted on: October 28, 2019 at 3:18 pm
Last updated: October 15, 2020 at 3:16 pm

While we would hope that there is enough human decency in this world that companies producing products that are designed for infants, would be safe enough for infants. Of course, sometimes this is not the case, as we’ve seen recently with baby food

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Johnson & Johnson, the infamous pharmaceutical, who is known for Aveeno moisturizers, Band-Aids, Benadryl, and of course, their signature baby powder – has been struck with a recall. As many know, this powder isn’t solely for infants and is used by men and women of all ages for it’s drying and anti-odor effects. 

On Friday, October 18th, 2019 the company issued a recall out of ‘an abundance of caution’.  This recall happened after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found asbestos in their product, which is linked to cancer.

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Asbestos is a carcinogen, which is known to cause mesothelioma. This type of cancer develops from the thin layer of tissue that covers many of the internal organs (known as the mesothelium). The most common area affected is the lining of the lungs and chest wall [1]

J&J has faced over 13,000 lawsuits over the years, many are still in progress, and plenty has claimed that their long term exposure to the substance in their baby powder gave them cancer. 

J&J is known for its signature corporation come-back ‘their product is safe and broadly do not contain asbestos’. 

While asbestos naturally forms alongside talc, and can, therefore, contaminate talc during the mining process, not all talc contains asbestos. Nonetheless, it’s kosher to test talc for asbestos and if it’s positive, it should be avoided. 

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For decades, this company has been claiming that its baby powder is asbestos-free. However, there is evidence that J&J knew asbestos was in their products for decades [2] and in 2018 a woman was even awarded $29 million in a lawsuit claiming that the asbestos in her talcum powder caused her cancer [3].  

Even with incidents like this, it seems that asbestos is still making appearances in its powders. 

In a report from 1971 to the early 2000s, Baby Powder was tested periodically for even small amounts of asbestos [2]. However, these findings were not disclosed. Meanwhile, rates of mesothelioma were rising. Now there is even more evidence that cosmetic talc, found in baby powder is causing this cancer [4][5]. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer affecting only 0.3% of all cancer diagnoses in the USA. According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, the survival rate for mesothelioma is only about 12 to 14 months [6].

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) considers the links between mesothelioma and asbestos strong enough to say that the toxin causes cancer [7]

This recall for contamination consisted of 0.00002 percent asbestos, which is less than a trace. However, it’s clear that this carcinogen is finding its way into their product, which is designed for infants and widely used among the population.

Looking to avoid potential contamination? Here’s a simple DIY for Homemade Baby Powder

For more information on the recall

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Gemma Fischer
Freelance writer
Gemma is a Halifax-based freelance writer. She specializes in writing blog posts and creating social media content for creative businesses. When Gemma isn’t writing, she can be found reading, sipping on holy basil tea, thrifting, hiking and doing her best at practicing the art of slow living.

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