Americans are often fascinated with courtroom dramas. An intimate look at the legal system dealing with an important issue is reassuring for people who want to have faith in our democracy and our right to be heard. Although lawsuits often do provide reassurances and compensation to victims of grave injuries or illnesses, the truth is often messier than fiction.
Every once in a while, the nightly news on television gets your attention with the claim that "something in your house can kill you." Sometimes, the science is being turned into hype for shock value. But one recent case may involve the violation of trust by not making enough of the dangers in an everyday product.
Worries were growing about talcum powder long before the lawsuits started. Although some people still remember keeping babies dry with this powder, pediatricians started expressing concern about infants inhaling the white dust in the 1970s. Since then, up to 90% of talcum powder users have been adults.
Talcum powder has been a trusted part of the cleanliness routine in American bathrooms for decades. But recent lawsuits, including several concluded ones, are casting doubt on the safety of this mainstay in millions of households. While the legal battle rages, most people are simply curious about whether to keep using talcum powder.
After more than 50 years of litigation, asbestos has caused more and more expensive lawsuits in the United States than any other defective product or material. The crystal fibers in asbestos deposits have been linked by many medical professionals with certain types of cancer, which may appear in several internal organs.
Asbestos, a fibrous crystalline material thought to cause respiratory problems, has been the subject of more expensive actions in U.S. civil courts than any other potentially harmful material. Although its use in manufacturing and building has long since come to an end, it is still discovered on occasion in older buildings across Louisiana.
There are probably a dozen chemicals in the bathroom that we rely on to stay clean and fresh. It would be a violation to learn that one or more of them had never been as safe as the maker claimed. That is the scenario playing out in several courts as a staple of bathroom hygiene products is under scrutiny.
Talcum powder has been marketed for decades as a method to stay dry, but it may have a dangerous side effect that users should have known about from the beginning. Asbestos among the fine particles of talc in the toiletry product may have been inhaled, causing a cancer in the lining of an organ known as mesothelioma.
It is only a recent development in U.S. history that companies must answer for dangerous products they have released. But developments such as government agencies dedicated to protecting specific groups of citizens and legal obligations to victims of poor business practices have strengthened the age of holding makers responsible.
It's hard to imagine the dangers of a product with the benign name of "baby powder." However, it appears that courts are beating scientists to the claim that talc, a clay mineral renowned for its absorbent qualities, may not be as benign as its popular trade name suggests.