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Talc is a common substance that is, “Generally Recognized As Safe” (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It’s often included in makeups and other powders because it has wonderful drying effects that can help soothe irritated skin and dry moist areas.
Although talc is allowed in products, it’s not always safe to use. While talc itself is made out of a type of magnesium rich clay, it’s often found alongside a much more harmful agent, asbestos. Most people are familiar with the carcinogenic effects of asbestos, but may not be aware of how easy it is for talc to be contaminated with it.
Asbestos has contaminated talc containing baby powders in the past and is suspected of causing ovarian cancer in those who used contaminated powders. The World Health Organization (WHO) doesn’t recognize any amount of asbestos exposure as safe. That means even if you’re exposed to a tiny amount, it’s an unsafe level according to health authorities.
To make matters even more complicated, most companies that use talc in their products seldom if ever test it. Studies done on these powders are uncommon, but one conducted in 1976 by Mount Sinai Hospital found asbestos in 10 out of 19 samples of baby powder.
Pure Talc is Harmless
Pure talc—talc uncontaminated by other substances such as asbestos, is harmless. Not every talc deposit in the world is contaminated. Unfortunately, the same geological formations that allow for a talc deposit to occur also allows for the formation of asbestos.
Many miners who mine for talc experience higher rates of Mesothelioma as well as asbestos related lung diseases—but again this is because of how frequently asbestos and talc form alongside each other. If you live in the US, it’s likely that the majority of the talc that you come across is contaminated with asbestos. In some mines, talc can be contaminated by as much as 60% asbestos. This is more contaminant than talc!
The best way to stay safe is not to use talc
While talc itself is not known to cause issues, the likelihood of it being contaminated is too high. The more often you use talc products, the more likely you are to be exposed to asbestos. The simple solution is to avoid any product with talc in it, so that you can avoid the contamination that often goes with it.
If you must use a talc-based product, research how often they test for asbestos, and how transparent they are.
Many large companies, including L’oreal, Chanel, and Revlon, are slowly phasing out talcs in their products due to rising cancer related lawsuits and more safety awareness.
If you’re concerned about cancer or are worried about talc, it’s better to be safe and choose talc-free products. There are plenty of powders out there that can help you stay dry, ease skin discomfort, or perform many of the same tasks that talc does, without exposing you to risks.
NAPRIM Naturals provides talc-free, all natural, vegan, and naturally unscented powders that are safe and soothing for all skin types. Our products are often used by stylists, barbers and are perfect for at home use as a natural powder to create an irritation-free experience. Click here to learn more or to shop for products to calm skin and reduce irritation.