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Talcum Powder: The Bad News

Image of spilled baby powder "talc" from a bottle.

Talc in baby powder or other forms may present a respiratory hazard. Avoid inhalation.

Is Talcum Powder Dangerous?

I probably inspect 10 homes a week and as my clients take me on an walk through of their homes I frequently see Talcum Powder in the bathrooms and baby changing areas. I see the powder on floors in bathrooms and on and around changing table areas.

For decades, a staple of many parents’ changing tables was a container of baby powder, but as with many child-rearing recommendations some pediatricians now recommend avoiding the product completely.

It makes sense, because powder in any form, is likely to be inhaled. Regular and liberal use of it increases the possibility of higher volume of inhalation.

The American Pediatric Association recommends against using baby powder, initially over concerns that talc, which was used in some products but has been largely phased out, could be inhaled and harm babies’ lungs.

There are currently safer baby powder options that use cornstarch as a talc-substitute, like the Honest Company’s organic baby powder, which was recently voluntarily recalled over rash concerns.

Asbestos In Talc Powder?

“Some cancer may have been from years ago potential contamination with asbestos when they made the talcum powder,” Dr.David Soma,
a Pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children’s Hospital.

Chunk of talc mineral.

Raw Talc as it is mined prior to processing may contain asbestos fibers.

Read More about Cancer Risk Mesothelioma in Talc Powder with this link:
https://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos-exposure/products/baby-powder/

“Despite the alternative powders, the overall message is that the potential of inhaling any powder could be harmful, especially for premature babies or those with heart disease and asthma,” says Dr. David Soma, a Pediatrician with the Mayo Clinic Children’s Hospital.

“The talc powder is more concerning than cornstarch based powder, but the big take home message is that we don’t recommend powders,” Soma said.

Why is it still in the Stores?

If it’s not recommended, why do we have it on store shelves?

“There are a lot of things that are used out of a matter of tradition, or the fact it seems to work for specific children,” Dr. Soma said. “I’m not sure if it will get phased out or not, until we know more about the details of other powders and creams and what works best for skin conditions  — I think it will stick around for a while.”

Health giant Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $72 million in damages to the family of an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer allegedly caused by using the company’s Baby Powder and other products that contained talc for feminine hygiene.

Image of a baby naked except for diapers.

Babys little lungs should be protected.

A St. Louis jury reached the verdict Monday night, awarding the family of Jackie Fox, $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages, AP reported.

After her cancer diagnosis, Fox, who lived in Birmingham, Ala., joined dozens of women suing the company for what they said was a failure to inform consumers about the dangers of talc, which is found in baby powder.

During the trial, Fox’s lawyers claimed that the company was aware of the possible risk of using products containing talc for feminine hygienic use.

Studies are mixed on link between talcum powder, ovarian cancer

The information on talc powder came out many years ago when they saw talc incorporated in tissue of women with ovarian cancer.  Concerns over talc led many doctors to advise mothers to stop using talcum powder on their babies, and to discontinue use for feminine hygiene.

Important to note that in the past talcum powder contained talc that contained asbestos, but modern powder does not.

Parents who chose to use the cornstarch-based baby powder, which has larger particles and is not believed to be as harmful as talc-based powder, it’s important to apply the product correctly, says Soma.

“If you elect to use it,  try to keep it well localized to the diaper and away from any area that can be inhaled,” Soma said. “Use as little as possible, probably put it on your hands and transfer to the diaper area or gently sprinkle to the diaper area.”

Volunteer Mold and Indoor Air Quality is based in Knoxville TN and deals with all types of indoor air quality concerns including toxic mold, asbestos and biological contamination in residential and commercial buildings.

Contact Volunteer at 865 385-0170 or www.volunteermold.com

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