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Mineral’s varied uses provide several avenues of exposure
Are you one of the thousands of men and women who used Johnson & Johnson baby powder regularly over the course of many years to keep yourself dry and comfortable or for relief from chafing? If the answer is yes and you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, chances are that asbestos contamination in Johnsons & Johnson’s iconic powder may have caused your malignancy.
Exposure to the fibrous mineral asbestos is the only known cause of the aggressive cancer known as malignant mesothelioma. Despite the relative rarity of this devastating disease, mesothelioma still manages to strike almost 3,000 men and women every year in the United States. More than 16,000 people are suing Johnson & Johnson and other manufacturers after being diagnosed with mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. These men and women used talcum powder for regularly for years, which they say was contaminated with toxic asbestos fibers.
Talc is a soft, slippery, silicate mineral which is frequently found in the same underground deposits as asbestos ore, another naturally-occurring mineral. Asbestos is a fibrous silicate mineral which was valued throughout the 1900s for its heat-, sound- and corrosion-resistant properties. The most common variety of asbestos used in manufacturing was chrysotile asbestos, a sheet silicate. Talc is also a sheet silicate, which is why talc deposits and asbestos deposits are often found side by side in the ground.
The mining of talc often resulted in contamination with chrysotile asbestos, which posed serious health risks when dust from mining and excavation operations was dispersed into the air and inhaled. Some of that asbestos contamination found its way into the talc that was then sold to manufacturers like Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson’s own tests from the 1960s have shown that their talc was contaminated with asbestos particles. While there have been stringent quality controls on the production of talcum powder for cosmetic use since 1976, people who regularly used Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder, as well as other brands of talc, for its moisture-absorbing and anti-chafing qualities before 1976 were quite possibly exposing themselves to a potentially deadly hazard.
The 1976 regulations separated cosmetic- and food-grade talc from “industrial-grade” talc, but those who worked in mining and/or processing of “industrial-grade” talc should be aware that there remained a potential hazard that could be life-threatening. In fact, industrial-grade talc was used for decades in a number of trades – and is still used in some types of manufacturing today.
So, what happens if you’ve received a diagnosis of mesothelioma but you didn’t grow up using talcum powder for personal hygiene and comfort every day? What if you didn’t work in an industry where asbestos was used? The extremely soft, silky properties of powdered talc also made the mineral indispensable in several industrial applications, including agriculture, paper manufacturing, welding and metal-working, rubber-making, the chlor-alkali industry, oil production, paints and coatings, ceramics and chemical manufacturing. Did you work in one of those industries? If so, you might have been exposed to talc contaminated with asbestos fibers.
Talc is one of the oldest known solid lubricants, so it was utilized as a friction-reducing additive in lubricating oils. In such vocations as farming, talc was mixed into seed to prevent clumping. Talc was an effective anti-caking agent, dispersing itself readily through animal feed and fertilizer. When mixed with agricultural chemicals, talc made an ideal inert carrier.
In the 1900s, talc was used in tire making, where it was utilized to keep the rubber inner tubes from sticking to the wheels and tires so the tubes would rotate properly. In rubber plants, talc served as filling material, and some rubber compounds contained up to fifty percent talc. High exposure to talc occurred in work areas where the vulcanization of inner tire tubes took place. Talc was also commonly used as a detackifier.
In ceramics, talc was widely used in both sculpting and in glazes. In low-fired objects, talc imparted whiteness and increased thermal expansion to resist crazing. In stoneware, talc was used to add flux and improve strength. It was added to high-temperature glazes to control melting temperature, and was employed as a matting agent in earthenware glazes.
The talc used in these and other industrial settings was not nearly as carefully regulated as cosmetic- and food-grade talc, and as a result was frequently contaminated with toxic asbestos fibers. This means that anyone working in an industry that utilized talc in the manufacturing process was probably breathing or ingesting carcinogenic asbestos fibers along with talc dust, which can lead to breathing problems, lung and other cancers, and even the aggressive and always deadly asbestos cancer mesothelioma.
The relative rarity of the disease makes receiving a diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma all the more devastating. Documenting how you were exposed to asbestos is a critical first step in determining whether you can file suit against the makers of talc products who failed to warn you about their product’s asbestos contamination. It is important that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible. Baron & Budd can help. ”Contact or call us at ”meso” to learn more about your legal options.