The Johnson and Johnson talc powder for babies has sparked outrage throughout the world. The majority of us have grown up with that soothing ‘baby’ aroma. Despite this, we were absolutely unaware of how dangerous it was.
According to Reuters, the talc tested positive for minuscule levels of asbestos (known to be hazardous) from 1971 through the early 2000s, as evidenced by internal corporate records. Thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the corporation by women who claim to have developed ovarian cancer as a result of the powder. However, the company continues to stand by its claim that the product is safe, as confirmed by independent scientific investigation.
However, Johnson and Johnson announced this month that they will stop selling the talc-based powder in the United States in 2020, and the same in the United Kingdom. The product will be replaced by cornstarch-based baby powder, which is already available in several regions of the world. J&J has stated that the talc-based powder will be discontinued in India as well, however it is still sold and widely available throughout the country. Stocks are not being recalled, and the business has stated that stores will continue to sell the product until production ceases.
The Indian pharma regulators’ apparent silence on the topic has been one of the reasons for its delayed retraction. The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has expressed concern about the lack of consistency in the testing methodologies used to detect the presence of formaldehyde and asbestos in Johnson and Johnson’s infant shampoo and talcum powder. According to news reports, a final decision is still pending.
Inhaling the powder poses a risk. “It’s especially not recommended as a baby product,” dermatologist Dr Madhuri Agarwal explains. “It has little value for skin and causes more harm than good.” When breathed, it can cause respiratory problems, harm the lungs, and sometimes even the intestines.” Talc is mined in close proximity to asbestos and can thus be easily polluted. Asbestos has long been linked to disease, and J&J has a long history of litigation alleging cancer-causing contamination. The reticence of Indian authorities has caused anxiety within the medical community. “Despite protests, there has been no authoritative decision by the government in India,” adds Dr. Agarwal.