Why It’s Important to Know About Purity and Safety of Talc

The sweet and familiar fragrance of talcum powder is pretty common in homes, especially ones with babies.  Even though talc is present in almost all households, it gets quite the flak. Despite all that negative attention, baby powder aka talcum powder has tons of advantages in day-to-day life.

Apart from the already known ways of using it for babies, talcum powder has a host of other uses in day-to-day life. For starters, talcum powder can be used as an antiperspirant. Talcum powder acts as a beautiful absorbent. It has a pleasant odor, and can be used to eliminate bad odors and excessive sweating conditions. Talcum powder can be used for multiple purposes – as a dry shampoo, to remove greasy and oily stains, to freshen up closets and cupboards, freshen up smelly feet (socks/shoes) and even to treat painful sores.

With such a myriad of uses, it seems slightly unfair that the talc comes in the wrong news often. Lately, the pharmaceutical company Johnson and Johnson had made it to the headlines facing allegations about Johnson’s baby powder causing cancer in people. A lot of cases have been raised in the past trying to put the company down, bringing in Johnson & Johnson into the news time and again. What is with this seemingly unharmful bottle of talc that makes it flash news repeatedly?

Talcum powder is made from talc; a soft mineral made up mainly of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It has numerous beneficial properties. It is such a product, which absorbs moisture well and helps cut down on friction, minimizes the production of sweat, heals cracked heels and also prevents the spread of the microbial infections. So, talc can be used on babies to keep them dry, smooth, and prevent fungal infections.

However, a few of the talc products contain asbestos (which comes across as a carcinogen) because of which, talc comes under the potential risk of causing cancer. There are different types of talc, including industrial and cosmetic-grade, which is used in a variety of products. According to the Cancer Council, in its natural form, some talc may contain asbestos, which is known to cause cancer. That’s because geologically, talc, and asbestos can naturally form alongside each other. But that does not mean that every talc deposit is contaminated with asbestos.

Talc has had a long history, and ever since 1970s, pharmaceutical talc products have gone completely asbestos-free. And since pharmaceutical companies produce talc extensively, a lot of stringent regulations are set up, and companies need to adhere to the rules to ensure the safety of their talc viz

  • Talc needs to be of pharmaceutical grade only
  • Needs to be FDA approved and hence absolutely free of any allergens and carcinogens.
  • Needs to be dermatologically tested and needs to be hypoallergenic
  • Needs to have only IFRA approved fragrances added to the products

Apart from these regulations, all ingredients need to be researched; products need to be extensively lab tested, and only then are allowed to proceed further.

In spite of its widespread uses and advantages, it is always better to follow a set of guidelines for one’s safety –

  • While using talc, ensure that one does not sprinkle the contents of the bottle directly onto the body or face.
  • Using a powder puff or soft cloth to gently spread the talc, which ensures smoother spread and better effects.
  • It is recommended that talcum powder not be used in sensitive areas, especially for babies. Using a diaper rash cream should help instead.

Small details like this, when followed, makes a product more comfortable and safer to use.

There have been a lot of history and cases linking using talcum powder, and more so, Johnson & Johnson baby powder with cancer and a lot of negatives have been written about Johnson’s baby powder. But interestingly, Johnson’s is one of the few companies that meet all of the given criteria and shows transparency in the ingredients they use for their products. The company has synced up with the US FDA to get all of its products tested and approved.

Very recently, the company made headlines in the east as well, in India. The allegations pointed towards Johnson and Johnson baby powder being cancer-causing and containing asbestos. A lot of brows were raised, and judgment passed on people using the product on their kids. The firm was stopped from continuing their manufacturing at a few places until tests were conducted. But the company kept its head high and cooperated to go through a series of tests, thus redeeming themselves yet again.

In addition to these specific tests, there have been multiple studies that have taken place to verify about Johnson and Johnsons baby powder and cancer. To this date, there has been no proven association between talc and cancer, making it a safe bet to be used in any household. So, the next time you are browsing through the shopping aisles and come across the little bottle of talc, you could safely consider buying one for you and your little one!

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