Since the late 1800’s, medical professionals and commercial manufacturers have known that asbestos is dangerous, linked to a variety of pulmonary ailments. Since the middle of the 20th century, these groups have known that exposure to asbestos is linked to mesothelioma, a cancer of organ lining that is almost always fatal. Most often, mesothelioma results from prolonged exposure to asbestos dust fibres, but it can also be induced by other, more seemingly innocuous means. This year, the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health published an article titled, “Asbestos in commercial cosmetic talcum powder as a cause of mesothelioma in women” by Ronald E. Gordon et al., which we will discuss here.
This team, from the Department of Pathology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York), SAI Laboratory in Greensboro, NC, and MVA Inc., in Duluth, GA, states “Cosmetic talcum powder products have been used for decades. The inhalation of talc may cause lung [scarring] in the form of granulomatose nodules called talcosis. Exposure to talc has also been suggested as a causative factor in the development of ovarian carcinomas, gynecological tumors, and mesothelioma.”
In this study, only one brand of cosmetic talcum powder, “associated with mesothelioma in women” was analyzed. Using powerful electron microscopes, the team looked over the cosmetic talcum powder, noting the number and type of asbestos fibers in a sample.
Results showed that “This brand of talcum powder contained asbestos and the application of talcum powder released inhalable asbestos fibers.” Studying the body of a woman whose only exposure to asbestos was through this cosmetic talcum powder, Gordon et al. (2014) found “Lung and lymph node tissues removed at autopsy revealed pleural mesothelioma” and “Digestions of the tissues were found to contain anthophyllite and tremolite asbestos.”
“Through many applications of this particular brand of talcum powder, the deceased inhaled asbestos fibers, which then accumulated in her lungs and likely caused or contributed to her mesothelioma as well as other women with the same scenario”.
Researchers have known since the 1970’s that asbestos fibers could be found in commercial talcum powder, but today we know that it can be enough to cause mesothelioma if inhaled. So, if you or a loved one suffered from exposure to asbestos, asbestosis, or mesothelioma, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation through an asbestos lawsuit or a mesothelioma lawsuit.