For decades, people have turned to talcum powder, also called baby powder, to keep the bottoms of young children dry. Some people also apply the powder to their underwear or genitals to reduce sweat or odor. In recent years, however, this practice has come under fire as potentially dangerous. Some evidence indicates higher rates of ovarian cancers in baby powder users.
Many people believe that the likely culprit for this increased cancer risk is due to asbestos contamination of baby powders. In recent months, major talcum powder brands, including Johnson & Johnson (J&J) have faced lawsuits from people with cancers potentially related to asbestos contamination. J &J is now attempting to defend its product and brand in court.
Pending lawsuit alleges J&J knew of contamination
In a lawsuit currently winding its way through the South Carolina courts, surviving family members blame J&J talc powder for the untimely cancer-related death of a woman. The family claims that J&J has known for decades that its talcum powder has been and could have some level of asbestos contamination but took no steps to warn or advise the public of this potential issue.
J&J, on the other hand, maintains that it has never sold any contaminated talc powder and that the cancers reported by frequent users are unrelated to their products. Now, the courts will review information about the company, as well as the medical background of the deceased woman, to determine if J&J and other businesses involved in the production and sale of talc powder are responsible for this death.
J&J facing thousands of lawsuits about cancers and talc
Despite their abject insistence that their talc powders do not contain asbestos and never have, more than 6,000 lawsuits against the company indicate that consumers and their attorneys feel otherwise.
Unfortunately for J&J, their own internal records could end up helping the people suing the massive corporation. Leaked internal memos from J&J executives show that the company was aware of the potential risk as far back as the 1970s. These memos make it clear that J&J, as well as the people running the company, knew full well that even minuscule levels of asbestos contamination could endanger their customers.
One of the memos that will almost certainly factor into this trial concludes that the company doesn’t need to worry about contamination. In it, the writer considers that a one percent contamination of asbestos would be below the limit set for asbestos miners.
They went so far as to speculate that inhalation by a newborn baby of contaminated talc powder would be harmless, despite a lack of any research establishing safe levels of asbestos for children or infants. These memos may not prove contamination, but they certainly show that J&J knew the risk and decided to put profits ahead of public safety.