Talc is a very soft, naturally-occurring clay mineral that is used to make talcum powder, an ingredient in many different cosmetic, personal care, and household products. However, some talcum powder has been shown to contain a specific type of asbestos called tremolite, which is a toxic substance linked with lung cancer.
Since so many everyday household products contain talc and talcum powder, it’s crucial that you use caution when buying these products to ensure the safety of you and your family. These five common products are known to contain talc, so you may have to do a little digging to determine the source of the talc used in that particular product and whether it has ever been tested for asbestos.
1. Baby Powder
Talcum powder is very good at absorbing moisture, which is why it is the primary ingredient in most baby powders and many feminine hygiene products. While cosmetic-grade talc should not contain asbestos in theory, some samples of baby powder, makeup, and other cosmetic products have tested positive for asbestos.
2. Paint and Coatings
Talc is also widely used in paint, coatings, and sealants either as a filler or to improve functional properties such as weathering protection, scrub resistance, and physical appearance. You can find an extensive list of paint products that contain talc on the FDA’s website. While this isn’t to say that every one of these products necessarily contains asbestos, it is a good idea to do a little research on the talc supplier for that product, or even to have it tested for asbestos prior to use in your home.
Some garden pesticides contain talcum powder to repel certain insects that could harm crops and flowers. Unfortunately, pesticides that contain talc with asbestos could also be harmful to you, your family, and your pets.
Talc is also often used to manufacture many different rubber products, including rubber-backed carpeting. If you are starting a renovation project and will be ripping up old carpet, insulation, and other materials that could contain asbestos, it’s recommended you bring in an asbestos testing company first so that you don’t end up stirring up dangerous asbestos fibers and releasing them into your home.
5. Paper and Plastics
Many papers and plastics contain talc as a filler, a brightening agent, and to improve the opacity of the finished product. Talc can also be used in the paper recycling process, so it’s possible for recycled paper products and plastics to potentially also contain asbestos.
While it can be difficult to avoid using products that contain talc or talcum powder altogether, you can have these products tested for asbestos by a certified environmental lab so you can have the peace of mind that you and your family are safe from asbestos exposure.
For more information on how to have your home or products tested for asbestos, contact IRIS Environmental Laboratories at (908)206-0073 or using our online contact form.