April 12, 2024

How are talc-based products contaminated with asbestos?

Posted in Mesothelioma

Exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc can occur from using products like talcum powder, which is an ingredient in many cosmetics.

Talc and asbestos are both natural minerals found in many of the same geographic areas, which means they can be mixed when the talc is mined. Alarmingly, asbestos fibres have been detected in talc. Talc products have been linked to mesothelioma.

Claims involving Johnson & Johnson

Over the years, a number of product liability claims have been brought against Johnson & Johnson who were the leading worldwide producer of talc. This led to a surge in claims against the company. These claims were vigorously defended despite clear evidence that asbestos fibres were present in their talc-based baby powder. In 2018, Reuters published an article exposing much of Johnson & Johnson’s previously confidential internal documents, including reports that revealed the presence of asbestos in their Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder.

In order to avoid their liabilities and further legal claims, Johnson & Johnson created a company called LTL Management LLC, split their liabilities for talc from the assets of Johnson & Johnson and immediately filed for bankruptcy in light of the rising number of talc claims. Frustratingly, this means that no legal claims can currently be made against Johnson & Johnson in respect of asbestos contamination of their products.

When is it possible to bring a US-based talc claim?

Anyone who contracts mesothelioma needs to be aware that cosmetic products they used may have contained asbestos-contaminated talc. It is sometimes possible for UK victims of mesothelioma, many of whom will be women, to seek compensation from these cosmetic companies in the US.

When assessing whether it is possible to bring a US-based talc claim, we ask our clients several questions, including whether they or their families have previously used powder or make-up products containing talc, including perfumed body powders, face powders or baby powders. We also ask whether they have been to America and whether they have purchased any make-up or talc products there. It is still possible to bring a claim for clients who have never been to America, or purchased powders/make up products from there, but to do so includes detailed analysis, such as whether the talc product was manufactured in New York or whether cosmetic research development centres were present there.

Typically, considering whether or not a talc claim will be possible depends on the client’s use of the talc products, when they used them, and for how long they used them. American talc claims require a deposition from the client by way of oral evidence rather than a written statement, which is different to the UK legal claim process where a client’s written witness statement often forms their evidence. If the mesothelioma sufferer is no longer alive, evidence can sometimes be provided from family members/witnesses about their use of the talc-based products.

Our cases

We have worked closely with a leading US trial attorney on a number of cases involving US product liability lawsuits. These lawsuits on behalf of UK-based victims of mesothelioma can be extremely valuable, in some circumstances in excess of $1,000,000.

In one of our claims, evidence was provided by the family of a lady who sadly passed away from mesothelioma. This lady was exposed to asbestos-contaminated talc through her use of Avon, Elizabeth Arden and Clinique powders from the 1970s to the 1990s. Photographs of the cosmetic products used have been helpful in supporting the claim. The claim is currently ongoing.

Many mesothelioma claims arise from exposure to asbestos in the workplace. Typically, exposure to asbestos has caused mesothelioma for a variety of tradesmen who have worked with asbestos products in industrial settings. Asbestos talc claims are very different. It is alarming to think that the talc-based powders and cosmetic products we have all used over the years have been found, in some instances, to be heavily contaminated with asbestos which can lead to the development of mesothelioma. It is very important that the possibility of exposure to talc-based powders and cosmetics is fully considered when considering legal redress for mesothelioma.

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