On Oct. 18, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced a voluntary recall by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) of 33,000 bottles of its 22-ounce J&J Baby Powder. The recall came after FDA testing revealed trace amounts of chrysotile fibers, a type of asbestos, in a product sample from J&J’s Baby Powder lot #22318RB. Consumers are urged to avoid using baby powder from the contaminated lot.
While there have been reports of independent scientists and J&J researchers detecting asbestos in baby powder for decades, this is the first time the FDA has announced the detection of asbestos in the powder in government-funded testing. Despite the recall, the company denies the presence of asbestos in its products. On Oct. 29, J&J announced that its own testing revealed no asbestos in the bottle tested by the FDA or from the affected production lot.
Just weeks later, however, the Wall Street Journal reported that J&J’s efforts to rush the test results for the sample may have impacted their accuracy. A laboratory commissioned by J&J initially found asbestos in the talc sample tested, but then later backtracked by saying the sample had been contaminated by an air-conditioning unit inside the testing room. J&J’s assertions that the samples are safe are hardly reassuring, given the company’s decades-long history of hiding asbestos detection in its talc products from the public.
What is Asbestos, and How Do They Contaminate Baby Powder?
Asbestos consists of a group of six naturally occurring mineral fibers with a long, thin structure. Exposure to asbestos fibers does not usually have immediate health impacts, but it does substantially increase a person’s risk of developing potentially fatal diseases down the road. Individuals exposed to asbestos can develop lung cancer, a rare type of chest cancer called mesothelioma and asbestosis, which are all serious, progressive and long-term diseases. These dangerous diseases can emerge decades after being exposed to asbestos. Ovarian cancer has also been linked to talc exposure, with the National Center for Health Research finding that women who have used talcum powder are 30% more likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer than those who haven’t.
A main component of J&J’s baby powder is talcum, which is also known as talc. Talcum is a naturally occurring clay mineral that is mined from the Earth and used to absorb moisture and prevent diaper rash. Asbestos are found in many of the mines that collect talcum, making it easy for trace amounts of asbestos to enter the supply chain and contaminate products like talc baby powder. Even small amounts of exposure to the known carcinogen can trigger health issues down the road.
J&J Asbestos Cancer Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson is currently the target of more than 16,000 lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who claim their cancer diagnoses were caused by asbestos exposure from J&J products. Juries that have sided with plaintiffs have awarded them more than $5 billion in the past two years alone.
If you or a loved one has developed cancer after potentially being exposed to asbestos, please call Pogust Millrood toll free at (888) 348-6787 or direct to our Pennsylvania office at (610) 941-4204 to see if you are entitled to seek damages.
A Pennsylvania native, Mike Daly has spent most of his life in the greater Philadelphia area. A proud graduate of Penn State and the Villanova School of Law, he's currently a partner at Pogust Millrood, where he represents individuals throughout the country in class action and mass tort claims involving consumer fraud, environmental harm, defective medical devices, and harmful pharmaceuticals.