What is Talcum Powder?


Talcum powder is made from the mineral talc, which is an ingredient in a wide variety of products we use each and every day. When talc is crushed into a powder, it can absorb moisture, oils and odor, making it popular for use in bath and body products. Talcum powder can also be used as a lubricant or an astringent on human skin.

While the product remains popular, especially among women, the medical community has for many years expressed concern about the potential dangers associated with talcum powder use. Studies going back to the 1970s have shown that talcum powder use for feminine hygiene has been linked to the development of ovarian cancer.

This link to ovarian cancer has prompted a growing number of women across the country to file a talcum powder lawsuit. If you or a loved one have been a longtime user of talcum powder for feminine hygiene and were subsequently diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it is in your best interest to speak with an experienced talcum powder lawyer about your claim. Compensation may be available by filing a talcum or baby powder cancer lawsuit.

Talc Powder

Talc is a hydrous magnesium silicate mineral with a chemical composition Mg3Si4O10(OH)2. A translucent mineral with a pearly luster, talc is often grey, beige, green, white, brown, or even colorless in some rare circumstances. It is known as the softest mineral on Earth.

Talc can be found in the metamorphic rocks of convergent plate boundaries. In the United States, for example, the most substantial talc deposits are found and mined on the east side of the Appalachian Mountains. Other talc-rich areas include the convergent terranes of California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Washington.

Below are the countries with the largest mine production of talc*:

  1. China
  2. South Korea
  3. India
  4. United States
  5. Finland
  6. France
  7. Japan

*Based on estimates provided by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Commodity Summary

Talc Uses

Talc is found in a wide variety of products outside of baby powder. The mineral has a number of unique properties that make it a vital industrial ingredient. For example, it is highly resistant to electricity and heat, so it is used often in electronics. Most people use talc products every day, though few are aware that the mineral is so pervasive.

Talc and Plastic – Would it surprise you to learn that in the U.S., talc is most often used in the manufacturing of plastics? An estimated 26 percent of all talc use is in manufacturing plastics. Talc has been demonstrated to increase the stiffness of polypropylene, polyethylene, polyester, vinyl and nylon. The mineral can also reduce shrinkage of these products whilst increasing heat resistance.

Talc and Ceramics – An estimated 17 percent of the talc consumed in the U.S. is used in ceramics products, including tile, dinnerware, pottery and bathroom fixtures.

Talc and Paint – Talc can be used as a filler and extender in paints. The mineral both improves the suspension of solids in the paint can and helps the paint stick to the wall. An estimated 16 percent of talc consumed in the U.S. is used in paint.

Talc and Paper – Talc is often used as a mineral filler in paper to improve its brightness and opacity. The ability of paper to absorb ink is also improved when talc is used as a filler. The paper industry uses an estimated 16 percent of talc consumed in the U.S.

Talcum Powder Uses

Talc ground into a powder is used as the main ingredient in a number of cosmetic and bath products. The tiny platelets of talcum powder allow the product to adhere to the skin, but can still be easily washed off. The mineral’s softness also allows for easy application without irritating skin.

Below are some of the most common uses of talcum powder:

  • Body powder
  • Foot powder
  • Medicated treatment for diaper rash or other minor skin irritations
  • Feminine hygiene
  • Dry shampoo
  • Deodorant
  • Additive to sanitary pads
  • Additive to incontinence pads

Talcum Powder Side Effects

 For many years, consumers have assumed that talcum powder is safe and soothing for a wide variety of applications, even though studies refute this claim. Talcum powder has been linked to serious side effects, including:

  • Ovarian Cancer – According to the Cancer Prevention Coalition, using baby powder for feminine hygiene puts women at an increased risk for developing ovarian cancer. Talc can travel from the vagina through a woman’s reproductive system, eventually becoming trapped in the lining of the ovaries. Despite the link to reported link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer, Dr. Samuel Epstein of the University of Illinois at Chicago says that approximately one in five women still use talcum powder for feminine hygiene.
  • Inflammation – In the event that talcum powder is inhaled, it can cause the lungs to become inflamed. If a parent uses talcum powder on a baby’s bottom, for example, the child can inhale the powder and become ill. Also, workers who regularly inhale talc as part of the job, may be at an increased risk for developing lung problems and even cancer.

Talcum Powder Cancer Risk

According to the American Cancer Society, some talc in its natural form contains asbestos, which is known to cause cancer in and around the lungs when inhaled. The asbestos link is no longer an issue in the U.S., as all talcum powder products sold in the country have been asbestos-free since the 1970s.

Many of the dangers associated with talcum focus on two different types of talc exposure:

  • Studies have shown that women who are longtime users of talcum powder as part of a feminine hygiene routine are at greater risk for developing ovarian cancer than those who do not use talcum powder.
  • Individuals who have been exposed to natural talc fibers at work (talc miners, for example) may be at increased risk for developing lung cancer.

Baby Powder Cancer

For many years, the manufacturers of talcum powder have touted the product for preventing feminine odor. But beginning in the 1970s, studies emerged linking the use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene to ovarian cancer. In 2013, the medical journal Cancer Prevention Research published a study showing that women who applied talcum powder to their genital area were shown to have 20–30 percent greater risk of developing ovarian cancer, when compared to women who did not use talcum powder for feminine hygiene.

Despite this and other studies linking talcum powder and ovarian cancer, manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson have not warned consumers about the serious health risks associated with talc use. Johnson & Johnson has called the talcum powder studies linking the product to ovarian cancer inconclusive, and the company has never put a warning label on its talc products.

Talcum Powder Lawsuit

Since the 1970s more than 20 talcum powder studies have linked talc to ovarian cancer. In 2003, Anticancer Research published an analysis of 16 talc studies, concluding that women who used talcum powder for feminine hygiene were 33 percent more likely to develop ovarian cancer than those who didn’t use talc.

Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest manufacturer of health care products, is presently facing upwards of 1,000 baby powder lawsuits, claiming the company failed to warn the public about the link to ovarian cancer. In February of 2016, a baby powder cancer lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson resulted in a $72 million jury award. Just three months later, another Johnson & Johnson baby powder lawsuit resulted in a $55 million jury award.

The law firm of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman is currently evaluating claims for women who claim to have developed ovarian cancer after using talcum powder for feminine hygiene. Our firm is offering free case consultations for women who are interested in pursuing a talcum powder lawsuit. Even if you just have a question about filing a talcum powder lawsuit, our personal injury attorneys are happy to assist you.

Fill out this form or give us a call at (800) 827-0087 anytime to discuss your claim.