Johnson & Johnson Facing Lawsuits Over Asbestos Contaminated Baby Powder

September 16, 2020 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Johnson & Johnson Facing Lawsuits Over Asbestos Contaminated Baby Powder

Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Lawsuit

Its well-known scent and soft touch are easily recognizable; Johnson & Johnson's Baby Powder has been around for decades. First formulated in 1893, it was out on shelves marketed for infant and toiletry use by 1894. Though trusted for so long, by late March 2020 Johnson & Johnson has faced over 19,000 lawsuits against them related to their baby powder and its link to cancer.

Following a test done by the FDA on a bottle of their baby powder, traces of asbestos were found. Though it has been known that asbestos is a carcinogen, it was not until 1980 that it was discovered to be commonly found in talc. When talc is being mined the two minerals are easily mixed.

Unfortunately, many companies get their raw ingredients from contaminated mines such as the one in Libby, Montana which has been labeled “one of America's worst man-made environmental disasters”. In documents that have recently been unsealed, Johnson & Johnson is shown to have known about the risks of asbestos in one of their supplier's mines as early as the 1970's.

While the company has done their own tests and maintains that they have found no asbestos, that does not mean their bottles do not contain any. When these internal tests are done, the sample size used is very small. It may be possible for that tiny sample to come out negative but that does not mean that the bottle in its entirety does not contain asbestos.

What is Asbestos?

The term asbestos refers to six separate natural minerals. For years asbestos was widely used and not viewed as the scary thing it is today. The material was often used in many different areas of the home, workplace, even planes and automobiles because of its heat and fire-resistant properties. It wasn't until the 1970's that research began to show the devastating effects it had on the body. Companies at this point had been covering up a secret they had already known for years. Now, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), any exposure to asbestos is unsafe.

Places Asbestos is Commonly Found

As we have mentioned, asbestos was a common building material for years. because of this, it is still commonly found in many homes and products.  It is quite possible that the siding on your home right now is made of asbestos, but that doesn't mean it is dangerous. The problem comes in when the product is being applied directly to the body in a loose form that can easily be inhaled, find its way into an orifice, or be absorbed through the skin. Some common places that asbestos is found other than in talc powders include:
  • Furnaces
  • Cement sheets
  • Pipe insulation
  • Roof shingles 
  • Drywall
  • Flooring
  • Lawn furniture

Side Effects of Asbestos Exposure

Exposing hundreds of thousands of people to this product is going to result in a variety of ailments in different forms. The most common is mesothelioma as well as ovarian cancer, which was first linked to asbestos in 1958. While originally sold to moms for their babies in 1894, the main group of users in recent years has been women who use the product on their bodies for chafing.

After wanting to see if there was a link between ovarian cancer and daily talcum powder use, a Harvard University study was conducted. The findings revealed that women who use talcum powder daily on their genitals have an increased risk of getting ovarian cancer by 36-41 percent

Johnson & Johnson Facing Lawsuits Over Asbestos Contaminated Baby Powder

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the thin layer of tissue in your lungs, heart, testes, or abdomen. This form of cancer is only known to be caused by asbestos exposure and occurs when the microscopic fibers become airborne.

Once the fibers are airborne, they can easily make their way into your body. The fibers are then able to cause cellular damage as well as interfere with cell division. It is because of these cellular changes that cancer can form.

Unfortunately, it can be anywhere from 10-15 years before symptoms of mesothelioma present themselves. Once someone is diagnosed, their life expectancy is approximately 12-21 months.

Side Effects of Mesothelioma

Some common symptoms and side effects of mesothelioma include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Painful coughing
  • Dry cough
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fluid buildup in the chest
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Muscle weakness

Current Johnson & Johnson Lawsuits

The first attorney to file a lawsuit against a talcum powder company related to ovarian cancer was attorney Allen Smith, Jr. in 2009. Since then the company has faced thousands of lawsuits. One example is from New Jersey where four plaintiffs alleged the Johnson & Johnson talcum powder was the cause of their mesothelioma. After the jury sided with the plaintiffs, the company now must pay $185 million in punitive damages towards the four women. Because the claims of asbestos contamination in baby powder has kept rising, one of the major talc suppliers for Johnson & Johnson, Imerys North America, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

What is Being Done about Carcinogens in Talc Powder?

It was not until October 2019 that 33,000 bottles of baby powder were taken off the shelves. Sales were discontinued after the FDA conducted their test and found asbestos in the bottle. Though Johnson & Johnson says that it is only because sales have been decreasing and misinformation about the product has been spreading.

They have now started using a cornstarch-based powder instead of talc. Those bottles with talc in it will no longer be sold in North America. However, talc-based baby powders are still being sold in other parts of the world.   

Although the production has stopped, whatever is remaining on the shelves with talc in it will be allowed to be sold until it is all gone.

Other Companies Facing Talc Lawsuits

Johnson & Johnson knew about the risk and contamination of their baby powder and did not put the health of their consumers first by warning them. They instead hid this secret for years at the expense of others' wellbeing. However, they were not the only companies to be doing this.

A few other talcum powder companies that have had asbestos contaminations before are:

  • Coty Airspun Face Powder
  • Desert Flower Dusting Powder
  • Friendship Garden Talcum Powder
  • Old Spice After Shave Talc
  • Rosemary Talc
  • ZBT Baby Powder

Talc Lawsuit Lawyers Near Me

The effects of baby powder that contain asbestos are devastating and detrimental to those unlucky enough to contract cancer from them. Talcum powder is something that many people have made a staple in their daily routine. Johnson & Johnson knew about the risk and contamination of their baby powder and did not put the health of their consumers first by warning them. They instead hid this secret for years.

Asbestos exposure leads to about 250,000 deaths a year. Just the use of asbestos-contaminated Johnson & Johnson baby powder products alone is the cause of 20,000 deaths of women each year. The personal injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are on the front line of talcum litigation and work with the best doctors in the field.

If you or a loved one has been a frequent user of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma, please give us a call for your free, no-obligation consultation. We can help you take the proper steps to defend your rights. You can reach our office by phone at (833) 700-MESO [6376] or by contacting us online.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA (833) 700-MESO [6376]

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Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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