The Johnson & Johnson baby powder scandal has resulted in numerous lawsuits. Now J&J is back to making baby powder, saying their talc is safe.
How did asbestos get in baby powder?
Talc is often found with asbestos when mined. The two should be separated before the talc is used, but failures to purify talc do occur, despite the knowledge of proper safety procedures. Johnson & Johnson knew since at least 1971 that there was sometimes asbestos found in the talc used for its baby powder. It worried about how to stop that and what should be done, but that worry didn’t mean the company told regulators about it. Instead, they kept that knowledge to themselves – and kept making a dangerous product.
Mesothelioma is caused by asbestos exposure
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that typically develops in the lungs, but it can also occur in the heart and in the lining around the internal organs. It takes decades to develop, and asbestos is its cause. Since asbestos was in the J&J talc that was used for the baby powder, and so many women were using it on themselves and their children, these women started to develop mesothelioma. They wondered why, since it was typically associated with miners, shipbuilders, and others in related industries. Eventually, the connection was made.
India gives J&J the all-clear
In plants in India, Johnson & Johnson has resumed its production of baby powder. Allegedly, government regulators there say there is no asbestos in the product. Hopefully this is true. But even if true, it is small comfort for women who now have an asbestos-related illness from using baby powder for decades.