Why Have Mass Tort Lawsuits Been Filed Against Johnson & Johnson?
Comprised of magnesium, silicon and oxygen, talc is known for its ability to absorb moisture, making it the ideal active ingredient in many cosmetic and household products, especially baby powder and after-shower products. Boosted by clever marketing campaigns in the 1980s and 90s, 30 percent of the population has used baby powder for feminine hygiene, with 52 percent of women in the African-American community using it on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, talc particles can hold toxic levels of asbestos, and when those particles enter the genital area, they can reach the ovaries where they embed themselves. Because asbestos inflames the tissue, it can increase the woman’s risk of epithelial carcinoma, or cancer cells that grow in the lining of an organ.
Although the Food and Drug Administration prohibits any talc products containing asbestos, Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder was not issued a cancer warning because 1) it was considered a cosmetic and therefore exempt from FDA approval, and 2) it was intended for external use. This allowed Johnson & Johnson to continue selling its talcum powder as a hygiene product even though as far back as 1972, it found asbestos levels in its product were “rather high.”
While hundreds of women became sick with cancer over the next 40 years, it wasn’t until the late 2010s that the first talcum powder lawsuits were filed. Even then, Johnson & Johnson refused to put a warning label on its product, arguing “such a label would be confusing, because it (Johnson & Johnson) stood by its product.”