Talcum powder is a widely used product. It is produced from talc, a mineral known as the softest mineral on earth. Talc is crushed into fine particles to form a powder and then applied to different body parts.
Talcum powders were adopted for cosmetic use because of their absorbent and lubricating properties that protect the skin and keep it dry. To add commercial value, talcum powders are often perfumed to increase sales.
However, the safety of talcum powder has been in doubt because of suspicions relating to asbestos contamination.
The Problem: Asbestos In Talcum Powder
Asbestos is a mineral known for its strength, heat and chemical resistance, and zero electrical conductivity. After a long period of widespread industrial use, it became known that asbestos has certain harmful properties that can cause multiple ailments. It is believed that minimal exposure might be enough to develop an asbestos-related disease
Unfortunately, talc and asbestos can be found together at the same geological site. When this happens asbestos might end up in talcum powders. This is called asbestos contamination. However, in most cases, residues of asbestos in talcum powder are unintentional.
Most of the health problems associated with asbestos are caused mainly by inhalation, and it is quite possible to inhale talcum powder that contains asbestos during routine use.
International Actions To Prohibit Asbestos
The United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia are some of the 50+ countries that have banned the use of asbestos. Besides, the European Union permanently decided not to use asbestos as well. In these countries, this creates a basis to litigate against companies who have asbestos-containing products on sale.
Across the countries that have banned the use of asbestos because of its dangerous effects, there is a coalition of activists favoring the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat (IBAS) since 1999. IBAS contends for an international ban on all types of asbestos.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is another international body with a strong interest in the worldwide ban of asbestos use in all its forms. The organization has put an action plan in place to end the use of asbestos in its 190 member countries by the year 2020.
The United States is one of the few major countries that has not placed a complete ban on asbestos yet. In fact, it has been notably slow regarding the ban. It was reported that imports of asbestos in 2018 were as high as 750 metric tons.
However, the United States does have regulations for the use of asbestos. They state that the use of asbestos is permitted in the US as long as it is less than 1% in products. Also, there have been multiple bills proposing a ban but they have all been rejected.
Prolonged Years Of Suppressing The Harm In Using Asbestos
Many cosmetic companies have enjoyed the popularity of talcum powder for decades. Most of them are aware of the possibility of the coexistence of talc and asbestos but have maintained a poor attitude towards it. This is evidenced by the fact that talc-containing cosmetics undergo minimal testing for asbestos before they are placed on the shelves for sale.
The use of such tainted cosmetics has continued to line the pockets of manufacturers, but has also created a pattern of chronic ailments for innocent users. Many victims of asbestos-related diseases have since traced the source of their illnesses to the use of talc powders.
Many manufacturers still uphold the viability of their products in the face of undeniable scientific proofs. Several of them continue to claim that their products are safe for use, even after they are proven guilty. Some industry giants fund questionable scientific research to back up these claims.
Diseases Caused By Asbestos In Talcum Powder
A lot of diseases caused by asbestos are related to the lungs. Very rarely, these diseases can extend to other organs. Generally, the diseases caused by asbestos develop over a prolonged period. These diseases include:
1. Pleural Plaques And Pleural Effusion
The pleura is a two-layered membrane outside the lungs that lines the inner chest wall. Pleural plaques form as a result of the calcification of collagen, which occurs due to asbestos exposure. As a result, the lung membranes thicken due to this calcification process. Pleural plaque is one of the least endangering conditions associated with asbestos exposure.
Pleural effusion is commonly called ‘water in the lungs’. It is a buildup of excess fluid in the pleura. This occurs between the layers of the lungs called the pleural space. Typically there is a fair amount of fluid in the pleural space that acts as a lubricant between two pleural surfaces outside the lungs.
The symptoms of both pleural plaques and pleural effusion are chest pain, shortness of breath, and dry coughing. Both pleural plaques and pleural effusion can be a signal of likely development of mesothelioma and other related diseases.
This is a type of lung fibrosis, a chronic and inflammatory lung disease. Its only known cause is the inhalation of asbestos fibers.
The inhaled asbestos fibers attach to the inner surface of the lungs. Asbestos particles do not decompose as other biological impurities do. This continued presence of asbestos fibers results in permanent scarring of the lungs.
After a while, the lungs form scar tissues to combat the asbestos particles that have not decomposed. Scar tissues thicken in the lungs but do not replicate, as in the case of cancers. This results in breathing difficulty for the victim. Asbestosis can be fatal or result in other ailments that may lead to death. The symptoms of asbestosis include:
- Persistent coughing
- Breath shortage
- Finger clubbing
- Chest pains
3. Laryngeal Cancer
Laryngeal cancer is an asbestos-related condition that affects the larynx. The larynx is commonly known as the voice box. It contains the vocal cords, which allows humans to speak. The cells lining the inside of the larynx are the site of this cancer’s primary attack. Symptoms of laryngeal cancer include:
- A persistent sore throat
- Unfamiliar hoarseness of the voice
- Pronounced trouble swallowing
- Trouble speaking (Dysphonia)
- Noisy and difficult breathing
3. Ovarian Cancer
This cancer develops in either one or both ovaries. Ovaries are the reproductive organs in women. Many factors, including asbestos exposure, can cause this form of cancer. Asbestos fibers may end up in the ovaries by inhalation or via the reproductive tract if applied to the genitals. The symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Pain during sex
- Abnormal menstrual flow
This is cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs and abdomen. It is also caused by exposure to asbestos. It is a rare form of cancer that has a rapid growth rate, and its rate of replication means a poor prognosis for victims. There are four manifestations of mesothelioma:
It is a variation of mesothelioma which affects the lung and chest linings. It is the most common type of mesothelioma. Its symptoms include chest pain and breathing difficulties.
This mesothelioma type attacks abdominal linings. It is the next most frequent type of mesothelioma. Its symptoms include abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Pericardial mesothelioma cases are very rare. Tumors develop in the lining of the heart. This can cause chest pains and shortness of breath.
This is also a rare form of mesothelioma. It attacks the testicle linings. Its symptoms include swelling around the testicles and increased masses of tissues around them.
Getting Justice As An Asbestos Contamination Victim
A victim who has suffered asbestos contamination via talcum powders can seek justice through asbestos litigation. The process is often an excruciating one laden with emotions as plaintiffs seek closure for the harm done to them through the use of these products.
Therefore, there is a need to get the right attorney to win these cases. The choice of attorney should be based on experience and a successful track record. The right attorney would also be able to give you consultation on how best to build a case.
There are two types of claims in asbestos litigation:
Personal Injury Claims:
Upon diagnosis of asbestos-related cancer, victims can file a personal injury lawsuit against the companies producing the product that exposed them to disease. Victims can make a case based on the lack of warning about the asbestos contained in the powder. The beneficiary in this type of claim is the individual who filed the suit.
Wrongful Death Claims:
The estate of an asbestos contamination victim makes a wrongful death claim upon their death. They can seek compensation to cover as much as they had expended on the deceased during their treatment. The beneficiary of this type of claim upon victory is the estate of the deceased.
Since the formation of talc is closely related to that of asbestos, it is the primary reason for the presence of asbestos in talcum powders. Many companies producing talcum powder claim that the asbestos found in their products must be accidental.
However, they have to be held accountable due to the poor prognosis of cancers caused by asbestos. The costs of treatment can be adequately covered when the court rules in favor of the victim. Naturally, the odds of winning are always better with an experienced asbestos litigator.