by Jessica Dolores, DC Clothesline:
For many mothers, talc powder is a sign of love. They enjoy its sweet smell on their baby’s soft, sensitive skin, and believe it makes their baby feel fresh and stay free from diaper rash. On the opposite end of the spectrum, adults apply talc on parts of their body that are most likely to sweat — like the underarms — to keep it from itching when they perspire. Little do they know that the talc powder may be doing more harm than good.
A judge in Middlesex County, New Jersey, has just awarded $30 million in damages to a banker who got sick of mesothelioma, an aggressive, deadly cancer that affects the lung’s lining. Lanzo said he used talcum powder for decades. His wife Kendra, for her part, got $7 million in damages, thus bringing the total amount of damages to $37 million.
The banker, Stephen Lanzo said he used Johnson & Johnson products like Shower to Shower and Baby Powder for over three decades, and claimed that inhaling the powder led to mesothelioma, an aggressive, fatal cancer that affects the lining of the lungs.
Talc, the product in question, is one of Earth’s softest minerals. Talc deposits are usually found near deposits of minerals that contain asbestos, which is known to pose serious health risks to humans. Studies have shown that the risk of cross-contamination during mining exists.
Johnson & Johnson denied that their talc products contain asbestos.
Lanzo’s case was the first to go on trial in New Jersey, where Johnson & Johnson’s head office is located. The company shouldered 70 percent of the damages paid to the Lanzo couple, while Imerys Talc, which supplied the mineral, was liable for 30 percent. The couple’s lawyers accused Johnson & Johnson of keeping customers in the dark about the health risks attached to asbestos in its talc products since the ’60s.