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If you’ve been here for a minute, you know that my day job is in Retail. While I never outright name my employer, I will say that I primarily work in the health and beauty area (at least that’s what I tell myself).

So, here is my attempt at connecting my day job to my website/thing I do late at night when I should be sleeping.

Powder Predicament

Over the last several months I’ve come to the realization that my store had practically no baby powder. I came to this conclusion because customers were asking about it, and we had none in the typical location.

Now, this lack of merchandise wasn’t just limited to Johnson’s. The store brand was out of stock for some time as well.

What is Talc or Talcum Powder

Talc or talcum, is a clay mineral, composed of hydrated magnesium silicate. Talc, in powder red form, often combined with corn starch is used in baby powder.

Wikipedia

It is used in about a million applications in several fields. From todays topic, baby powder, cosmetics, food, ceramics, and metal coating, and so much more.

Talcum powder was invented in 1894. It is the powdered form of talc, a mineral with a value of 1 on the Mohs hardness scale. Talc in its natural form, had been be used for many years before that. And of course it was Johnson and Johnson that first started manufacturing and selling Talcum Powder.

J&J Baby Powder with Talc

When The Kid was an infant she had baby acne. Basically just tiny little bumps on her face, that looked almost like pimples, that came from moisture on her sensitive skin during feeding. I’d read that putting baby powder on it can keep it dry so the bumps would clear.

I posted about doing so on Facebook. I had a handful of people telling me that baby powder isn’t good for babies because they can breathe it in. The way I used it was gently brushing a small amount on her cute little cheeks, with minimal dust.

She never had any issues and I never really used it on her much after that. I have used baby powder in myself, since sometimes when it’s hot and you have extra dinner rolls in your basket, well it gets damp. But it was infrequent usage.

So why did Johnson’s Baby Powder with Talc disappear from RETAIL ESTABLISHMENT’s shelves?

The product was discontinued and pulled from shelves this year due to “tens of thousands” of lawsuits alleging that the talc based product was causing cancer.

Talc & Asbestous

Talc, in its natural form is found in close proximity to Asbestos, a naturally occurring but known carcinogen. Talc and Asbestos are both silicate minerals and therefore are often found having formed near each other.

So, mining one mineral, if one isn’t careful, could result and contamination by the other. It’s not the Talc itself that’s said to be causing ovarian cancer in women, it’s talc contaminated by asbestos.

J&J claims that only pharmaceutical grade Talc is used in their baby powder. They have strict standards, which, of course they would. The link above also discusses how talc can be found and many different products we use every day.

There’s a lot of information there, but as it is a website created for and by Johnson & Johnson, believe what you will.

While Johnson’s does push that their talc based products are safe, and that talc itself is not cancer causing, it is believed that product was not as quality controlled as they’d let you believe, and the product was contaminated with asbestos.

Conclusion?

Is talc safe? Well, it has been used for a more than a century and has found its way into products from chewing gum to cosmetics to industrial uses. If it caused cancer, wouldn’t more people have had cancer?

But there’s also the conspiracy theory that I literally just thought of and have not read anything about, that if it causes cancer and we’ve been using it for years, perhaps that’s the leading cause I’d cancer? Is talc the reason we have so much cancer?

But it would all have to have been contaminated by asbestos, right?

In 2020c Johnson’s discontinued the sale of talc based powders, and plan to stop the sale worldwide by 2023. This is said to be purely a business decision, and not proof that the product was ever unsafe.

The talc based powders have been replaced in stores, including mine, with corn starch based baby powder. And it’s not just the Johnson’s brand either. The store brand also contains no talc.

While these products have been removed from markets in the US, there are still countless products containing talc still on shelves. It remains to be seen if other companies will follow suit and preemptively remove their products. But the mass exodus of recalls flooding the market would leave little to no product on shelves.

It’s more likely that perhaps these uncountable companies will quietly work toward replacing talc in their products, before the cancer scare hits their profit margins.

I still find it unlikely.