You are here: Home » Health » News
Business Standard

US experts urge new talc testing standards amid asbestos worries

The most significant recommendation from the panel of government experts is that mineral particles found in talc products small enough to be drawn into lungs should be counted as potentially harmful

Chad Terhune Lisa Girion | Reuters 

Lab testing

An expert panel formed by the US Food and Drug Administration has endorsed asbestos testing standards for cosmetics that reject long-held industry positions and reflect those of public health authorities and experts for thousands of plaintiffs who allege contaminated talc products caused their cancers.

The most significant recommendation from the panel of government experts is that mineral particles found in talc products small enough to be drawn into the lungs — even those the industry would not call asbestos — should be counted as potentially harmful.

Because both asbestos and look-alike minerals are suspected of causing “similar pathological outcomes, the distinction is irrelevant,” the expert panel said in a summary of its preliminary recommendations posted this week on the FDA’s website.

The panel also underscored the view of the World Health Organization and other public health authorities that there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure and called for talc powders and cosmetics to be tested with the most sensitive methods available.

The recommendations — which came from experts from eight government agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health — are set to be considered Feb. 4 at the FDA campus in Silver Spring, Maryland. It will be the first FDA hearing focused on testing methods for asbestos in talc and cosmetics since 1971, according to the agency.

The panel’s assessment marks a sharp departure from that of previous advisers. In late 2018, numerous experts with industry ties downplayed the potential hazard of talc contamination with asbestos.

First Published: Sat, January 11 2020. 23:08 IST