FDA declares that asbestos was not detected in 50 talc-containing cosmetic products
09 Dec 2022 --- The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) contracted AMA Analytical Services to test talc-containing cosmetics for the presence of asbestos and has released the results of the 2022 samples, deeming that asbestos was not detected in all 50 submitted products tested. Concerns about talc laced with asbestos have been proliferating since the 1970s; however, new tests are showing that talc-based cosmetics are becoming increasingly trustworthy.
The FDA chose and purchased beauty products, which were then anonymized and sent for analysis to AMA. The products were chosen based on a number of criteria, including the type of talc-containing cosmetic product, the price range, well-liked products on social media and in advertisements, products marketed to children and women of color and, if any, reports from third parties of potential asbestos contamination.
Asbestos was not detected in any of the products tested, including different kinds of talc-containing makeup powders from industry names like Avon, Clinique, Coty’s Gucci, LVMH’s Givenchy, Lancome, Mario Badescu and Sephora.
Let’s talk talc
Magnesium, silicon, oxygen and hydrogen make up the naturally occurring mineral talc, which is extracted from the earth.
Cosmetics and other personal care products frequently contain talc. It might be used, for instance, to absorb moisture, stop caking, make facial cosmetics opaque or enhance the feel of a product. The FDA occasionally receives inquiries regarding the safety of talc and whether it includes dangerous contaminants like asbestos.
The usage of talc-containing powders in the vaginal region and the prevalence of ovarian cancer may be related, according to published scientific research dating back to the 1960s. These investigations, however, have not unambiguously shown such a correlation or, if one exists, what risk factors would be implicated.
The FDA is conducting ongoing studies in this area. Concerns concerning talc’s possible asbestos contamination have been voiced since the 1970s.
Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was placed under close scrutiny amid a talc-based baby powder controversy. This came as Talcum Powder Compensation Center urged US consumers of J&J’s baby product to reach out to a legal team for “millions of dollars” as compensation for asbestos exposure.
Despite claiming that the ingredients in its talc-based baby powder were safe, J&J switched to an all-cornstarch-based baby powder portfolio – replacing its iconic predecessor.
Although it has a distinct crystal structure, asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral. Asbestos and talc can be found near each other at mining sites. However, asbestos is a proven carcinogen when inhaled, unlike talc.
For this reason, it is crucial to choose talc mining sites wisely and do adequate mineral testing to prevent asbestos contamination.
Earlier this year, the FDA warned against some untrustworthy methods employed by some cosmetic industry members to test for asbestos in talc-containing cosmetic products. It then issued a peer-reviewed white paper, detailing more appropriate procedures.
Of these, the FDA advocates for the use of Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM).
In line with this, the European Union also recently recognized the potential threats asbestos exposure pose and reached a consensus on how to improve EU regulations that safeguard workers from substance-related dangers.
In the Interinstitutional File of 30 Nov 2022 from the Permanent Representatives Committee to the European Union Council, the committee outlines TEM as the most trustworthy method.
The amendment “introduces an obligation to carry out asbestos fiber-counting by the more modern and sensitive method based on electron microscopy (EM).”
Finally, it allows a transition period of seven years to “comply with this requirement in order to allow for sufficient time for the transition from the currently most widely used phase-contrast microscopy (PCM) method.”
By Mieke Meintjes
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