The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has endorsed the testing of asbestos in cosmetics despite the resistance of the industry, to better reflect public health authorities views.
The recommendation comes as experts have successfully argued to the FDA that mineral particles, even those not considered to be asbestos, could be drawn into the lungs of consumers and should, therefore, be counted as potentially harmful.
According to the expert panel, asbestos and similar-looking minerals cause “similar pathological outcomes, the distinction is irrelevant,” they explained.
The panel also reiterated the view of the World Health Organisation, which is that there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure and as such, talcs and cosmetics should be tested with the most sensitive methods available.
Johnson & Johnson, who have returned positive results for asbestos-containing material in their talc products in October last year, despite denying any link, have explained that they are looking “forward to a thorough review of the most effective and reliable ways to test for asbestos in cosmetic talc.”
The new safety recommendations are part of the FDA’s reconsideration of testing standards for talcs and other cosmetics. Those new standards could go on to influence courtroom strategies and the practices of cosmetic manufacturers.
This is particularly important as thousands of lawsuits are pending, alleging talc products caused various cancers in users, including mesothelioma.
Steven Compton, who is a director of a Georgia laboratory that undertakes testing for talc companies, explained that the new recommendations may provide better guidance for scientists and offer new standards.
“It’s helpful for labs to understand what they should be counting – whether it’s for the courtroom or for a client in the industry,” Compton said.