It’s been a long journey for people who used talcum powder as a hygiene aid. After decades of targeted marketing, the substance spent years in American homes before something appeared not quite right. Many users developed rare types of cancer or suffered other health problems.
Now, it seems most talcum powder on the market was contaminated with asbestos, which is believed to be dangerous to human health. Lawsuits to take the main distributor of talcum powder to task have had mixed results so far. Some plaintiffs have won multimillion-dollar lawsuits to help with medical care and to penalize the manufacturer for fraudulent practices.
Meanwhile, a new report shows the U.S. government agency responsible for maintaining safety in these products may not have pursued every avenue to accomplish their goals.
The report claims that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deferred to the opinions of the talcum powder industry on the safety of its products, even as independent consultants warned of the risks. The FDA may have been downplaying the risks associated with asbestos in talcum powder since the 1970s, refusing to add consumer warnings to packaging or take other steps to inform users of potential problems.
Although the agency claimed it was not empowered to demand testing or other safeguards from manufacturers, some have considered this long-standing opinion to be a breach of public trust. Former users of talcum powder who believe they were sickened by it may have a case in civil court for damages to help with recovery. An attorney is often the best consultant when a victim is considering such a case.