Company Regulations of Talcum Powder in Cosmetic Products
It can be easy to overlook the ingredients of everyday coveted cosmetic products, despite the importance each one may have with skin and health. This could be in part of general knowledge that its presence in-store assures for safe ingredients approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although this may be true, there still is no absolute guarantee that every product put on the shelf is completely unharmful.
Talcum powder, or talc for short, is a mineral that absorbs moisture and acts as a softening, anti-caking agent. It has been used in a variety of cosmetic products – including blush, eye shadow, face powder, foundation lipstick, mascara, and even children’s makeup. Under poor regulation conditions, products that contain cosmetic-grade talcum powder can become contaminated with asbestos. Asbestos is a natural mineral that is the only known cause of the mesothelioma – a rare and deadly disease. A mesothelioma prognosis is typically very poor. One of the most common forms is epithelioid mesothelioma which also has a poor mesothelioma life expectancy. For this reason, the regulation of talc, specifically in terms of cosmetics, is extremely important.
Does the FDA regulate talc?
The simple answer is, they don’t. Nonetheless, the FDA is aware of the dangers of talc when traced with asbestos. The last test on talc products conducted by the FDA was in 2010. Although the results showed the talc being clean and asbestos free, they had only been provided raw talc for four (out of nine) suppliers and tested a total for 34 commercial products – all of which were purchased from stores in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Despite the direct link to asbestos in past talcum powder products, the FDA monitors potential safety issues with cosmetic products on the market and acts to protect public health “when necessary”. In fact, according to the FDA “…cosmetic products and ingredients, with the exception of color additives, do not have to undergo FDA review or approval before they go on the market” so, unfortunately, the FDA does not consistently regulate products containing talc. Therefore, a cosmetic must be directly contaminated with asbestos before the FDA will act, which, unfortunately, by this point, it is likely for consumers to have already bought or even used such products.
Company Regulations with Talcum Powders
So, if people know about the danger’s talc powder could have in means of asbestos, why are they still used in? Despite many companies switching over to alternative ingredients (such as silk powders, cornstarch, and finely milled oats), others still continue to utilize talc. Although the FDA may not be the leading group which tests the safety of products, companies nonetheless act into their own hands to ensure the safest possible product by carefully testing their ingredients, labeling their products, working with self-regulatory groups, and recalling products when needed.
To ensure consumer safety, companies claim to perform regular tests to confirm their talc is pure and asbestos-free. These tests are particularly important as the FDA expects cosmetics companies to test their products for asbestos before they hit shelves. There are a variety of tests, including:
- PCM: Phase Contrast (light) Microscopy
- PLM: Polarizing Light Microscopy
- SEM: Scanning Electron Microscopy
- TEM: Transmission Electron Microscopy
- XRD*: X-ray Diffraction
According to the Talc Expert Panel, which advises the FDA, the recommended tests are the PLM and TEM methods.
The company Johnson & Johnson is widely known for its use of talc in their famous baby powders. On the company’s site, they state “Thousands of tests repeatedly confirm that our consumer talc products do not contain asbestos…Not only do we and our suppliers routinely test to ensure our talc does not contain asbestos, our talc has also been tested and confirmed to be asbestos-free by a range of independent laboratories and universities, including the FDA, Harvard School of Public Health, and Mount Sinai Hospital”. Though the company claims to have clean product ingredients, they still continue to face lawsuits from consumers as a result of previous asbestos liabilities linking back to the 1970’s.
Although the FDA leaves testing talc-products to the company, they do require proper labeling on products as well as those products to be safe for consumer use under labeled or customary conditions of use. So, what should you look for on the label of a product that could contain talc? When labeled properly, products will typically state talcum powder or cosmetic talc
To better regulate products, some companies have turned to self-regulatory groups. The Cosmetic Ingredients Review (CIR), for instance, was established and is fully funded by the nation’s leading cosmetics trade association (the Personal Care Products Council). It is supervised by top executives, and although this has no formal regulatory role, they have the support of the FDA and CFA. The CIR offers safety assessments of the ingredients in cosmetic products and publish their results.
The Personal Care Products Council represents about 600 cosmetics companies – which is roughly 90% of the industry. In 1976, the council declared that all products containing talc should be asbestos free – however, the council had no way to fully enforce this standard. Nonetheless, the company continues to be an advocate of safe-consumer products.
Circumstances of company products having a harmful effect on consumers make recalls extremely important – especially when those products have already entered a consumer’s home. Although the FD&C Act does not authorize the FDA to order a personal care product recall, the FDA plays a critical role. Here is a simple breakdown of the FDA’s recall process:
- The request of a recall by the FDA may be proposed. If such action is elected, a recall procedure strategy for the cosmetic product is outlined.
- The FDA will monitor the progress of a recall through a review of the manufacturer’s mandated progress reports and/or periodic inspections at retail sites to ensure the effectiveness of a recall.
- The level of hazard that a recalled product poses to the public is classified by the FDA – rating it as Class I (most severe), Class II, or Class III (least dangerous).
- If the FDA determines that there is a need for public notification, they can ensure that the manufacturer of the product makes the correct notification. If a beauty manufacturer refuses to do so, the FDA may issue one on their behalf.
- The FDA ensures that the affected product is appropriately destroyed.
Companies regulate their products and ingredients to ensure the safety of consumers, it does not guarantee that every product put out on the market is completely safe. Therefore, it is extremely important to be aware of recalls, as they should not be overlooked.
Recently, the FDA announced a recall on two cosmetic products sold at Claire’s – one of which was an exclusive product by Jojo Siwa, a 16-year-old Youtuber. The company’s target customer are girls between the ages of 3-18 with a particular focus on girls between the ages of 10-14. This is not the first time Claire’s has had an issue with their cosmetics containing asbestos. In fact, this is the second time in three months that the store has issued a voluntary recall over asbestos contamination concerns within cosmetic products despite moving to talc-free cosmetic manufacturing. The company continues to face scrutiny regarding asbestos since 2017. Although no company wants a mass recall in their products, ultimately, the consumer’s health must come first.
The bottom line regarding talcum cosmetic regulations
As a consumer, it is truly hard to see what goes on behind the scenes of a company.
Companies that utilize talcum, a mineral that when traced with asbestos could lead to mesothelioma – a rare, and life-threatening disease, must take heavy precautions in order to keep consumers safe. Such precautions may include testing within the talcum mines or talcum powder itself, proper labeling, involvement to engage with regulatory groups, and awareness of current & future recalls. Although regulations can provide a better sense of reassurance for ingredient safety, additional research on your favorite brands and products can be beneficial to the health of you or a loved one.
The Asbestos Cancer Organization
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, we can help you. Those with stage 4 mesothelioma can get the most value from working with us. We have a team of dedicated specialists trained to assist you with mesothelioma information. We are also sponsored by the nations leading mesothelioma law firm. We know a mesothelioma diagnosis can be a shock, and that is why we are here to help.
The post Company Regulations of Talcum Powder in Cosmetic Products appeared first on The Asbestos Cancer Organization.