By guest author: Dr. Daniel A. Landau, from The Mesothelioma Center (edited by BSC)
Invisible threats can often lurk beneath the surface of everyday items, and cosmetics are no exception. In this article, we shine a light on an often-overlooked unexpected hazard – asbestos in cosmetic products. Learn more about asbestos, its presence in cosmetics, associated risks, and how to protect yourself from its subtle dangers.
What is asbestos and what are the dangers?
Asbestos is a mineral known for its flexible fibers that are resistant to heat, electricity and corrosion. That’s why asbestos is valuable for various product applications.
These properties come with a terrible consequence. Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma. A cancer that forms in the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Other types of cancer caused by asbestos include lung, ovarian and laryngeal cancer.
Why is it used in Cosmetics and which cosmetics are known for possibly containing asbestos?
Cosmetic brands don’t use asbestos minerals directly, they use talc. Talc has been used for several reasons including absorbency, texture and feel, opacity and coverage, bulking, and anti-caking. Because talc is a mineral with potential high levels of asbestos contamination due to their natural geological formation process, what really exposes us to asbestos are the cosmetics that are made with talc.
To address these concerns, cosmetic manufacturers are increasingly seeking alternative ingredients in their products to ensure consumer safety. Nevertheless, some cosmetic brands still incorporate talc in their products, raising potential risks to consumers who might unknowingly be exposed to harmful asbestos fibers.
Safer Choices: Replacing Asbestos in Cosmetic Formulations
There are many different alternatives for talc and asbestos-free cosmetics. The following are some ingredients that are safe to use and are NOT carcinogenic: Cornstarch, Rice Powder, Aloe Vera powder, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Silica, Tapioca Starch, Oat Flour.
These are all good alternatives as they are soft, gentle and have great texture for different types of cosmetics such as powders and blushes.
How can one find out if a product has asbestos/is asbestos-free?
Check the product labeling: Some products may include warnings or information regarding asbestos content.
Read the product description and specifications: If you are purchasing a product online, read the product description and specifications provided by the manufacturer or retailer. Manufacturers often highlight if their products are asbestos-free as a selling point.
Contact the manufacturer or retailer: Reach out to the manufacturer or retailer directly. Ask them about the product's composition and whether it contains asbestos.
Consult product databases or certifications: Some regulatory bodies or independent organizations maintain databases or certifications related to products and their asbestos content. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States for example.
Seek professional testing: If you are still uncertain about a product's asbestos content, you can consider professional testing. There are specialized laboratories that can analyze samples to determine the presence or absence of asbestos fibers.
Resources for Asbestos Awareness and Information
The Mesothelioma Center is committed to addressing this issue and advocating for safer alternatives in the cosmetics industry. Their goal revolves around raising awareness about asbestos. They feature resources and support for individuals who may have been exposed to this mineral.
We also strongly encourage people who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or see signs of mesothelioma to seek legal counsel from asbestos lawyers. Many people suffering from mesothelioma may be entitled to compensation from companies responsible for their asbestos exposure.