The news has been full of stories lately about toxins — asbestos, specifically — found in makeup.
Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found asbestos in three product samples manufactured by a brand that markets cosmetics to young girls and teens. This finding was especially alarming to parents because it’s a retailer found in malls across the country, and the accessories and makeup are popular among some of the youngest consumers.
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a mineral that was long used as a fire retardant coating and insulation in buildings. It can also be used as a strengthener in cloth, paper, cement, plastic, and other substances. However, the use of asbestos has been shown to be extremely harmful to humans. For starters, it’s known to cause mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the chest and abdomen, as well as lung and other cancers.
Humans can inhale or swallow asbestos without even knowing it. The fibers cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted, so breathing in dust that contains asbestos is very dangerous. You won’t experience immediate effects of asbestos exposure. Over time, though, asbestos fibers trapped in the body can cause inflammation and genetic damage to cells.
People experiencing mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases are being diagnosed now because of exposure from years or decades ago when we didn’t know about the dangers associated with asbestos.
In most cases, asbestos-related diseases are the result of occupational exposure or secondhand exposure from living in a contaminated environment. There are cases where people developed illnesses from regular use of asbestos-contaminated products.
People have been filing (and winning) asbestos lawsuits since the 1970s. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned the use of asbestos in certain products in 1973, and the list of banned products has grown since then.
Thousands of asbestos lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson (J&J), claiming that the manufacturer knew that there was asbestos in the talc in its baby powder and related products. J&J is an iconic brand probably best known for its baby powder, baby shampoo, and other personal care items.
Many of those lawsuits are by women plaintiffs who claim that J&J talc caused their ovarian cancer. In fact, a Missouri jury awarded a $72 million settlement to the family of a woman whose death from ovarian cancer was found to be caused by daily use of baby powder and J&J’s Shower-to-Shower product.
In March 2019, a plaintiff won a big victory in a mesothelioma case. Terry Leavitt (plaintiff) used two J&J products in the 1960s and ‘70s and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017. She sued J&J for her injury, claiming the product was defective and the company failed to warn consumers about its dangers. J&J continues to maintain that talc does not cause cancer, but the court decided otherwise and awarded $29.4 million in damages to Leavitt and her husband.
Have you been affected by asbestos at work, at home, or in your personal care products?
There are three main ways you might have been exposed to asbestos.
- Occupational exposure. An occupational disease is a condition that you have because of prolonged exposure to a toxin in the workplace. You might be eligible for a class action lawsuit or multidistrict litigation (MDL) if you become ill from exposure to asbestos at work.
- Property contamination. A toxic injury is when you’ve become ill as a result of contamination in the environment. If your home was built before the 1980s, for example, it might have asbestos in the insulation, floor tiles, or elsewhere. For the most part, asbestos is harmless if the fibers are sealed and not disturbed. If the fiber became airborne at any time during renovation or for another reason, you might have been exposed.
- Personal care items and cosmetics. As we discussed, talcum powder has been a major culprit for asbestos illnesses from personal care products. Manufacturers today are required to sell talc-free products, but as the recent news indicates, that’s not always the case.
With respect to the recent news about makeup that contains asbestos, the makeup is no longer for sale in stores but if you have it at home, you should throw it out.
If you believe an illness you have now was caused by exposure to asbestos (possible years-ago), you might want to consult a personal injury attorney. A personal injury lawyer can answer your questions, advise you of your rights, and help determine if you have grounds for an asbestos lawsuit.
The Enjuris personal injury law firm directory is the ideal place to look for a lawyer in your state who can handle your case.