Industry Report Shows High Percentage of Talc-Related Asbestos Lawsuits

Makeup blender sponge with talcum powder, which can be contaminated with asbestos

An annual industry report noted a new trend in asbestos litigation. Between 2018 and 2021, 9% of asbestos lawsuits referenced asbestos-contaminated talc exposure. The report analyzed asbestos filings in 2021 and compared them against previous years.

Asbestos-contaminated talcum powder is increasingly recognized as a hazard. Exposure to it may lead to mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.

KCIC, an asbestos litigation consulting firm, compiled the report. In the KCIC’s seven years of compiling litigation, it is the first in which the firm dedicated a specific section to talc exposure.

KCIC did not offer a specific explanation for its sudden focus on talc. Outside the report, scientific and legal developments have helped increase awareness of the dangers of talc exposure. KCIC’s talc reporting adds to a trend that may spell trouble for talc manufacturers.

Majority of Asbestos-Talc Lawsuits Tied to Mesothelioma

In the past four years, the number of lawsuits alleging talc exposure ranged from about 8% to 11%. The lawsuits blamed talc exposure for various asbestos-related conditions, including:

  • Benign (non-cancerous) conditions
  • Lung cancer
  • Mesothelioma
  • Other cancers

The majority of these filings have been related to mesothelioma. Most recently in 2021, mesothelioma patients filed 94% of talc-related asbestos exposure lawsuits. This percentage is notably higher than in previous years.

Asbestos Lawsuits Alleging Talc Exposure

Year Malignant Mesothelioma Other Types of Asbestos-
Related Diseases
2018 264 85
2019 285 159
2020 286 106
2021 272 16
Total Asbestos Lawsuits 1,107 366

Why Are Talc Exposure Allegations Increasing?

The KCIC report does not speculate why allegations of talc exposure seem to be increasing. Factors that may be contributing to the increase in asbestos talc-exposure lawsuits include:

  • Recent reports of companies knowingly selling asbestos-contaminated talc products
  • Recent scientific evidence of asbestos-contaminated talc as a cause of mesothelioma

Companies have used talc in baby powders and other cosmetic products for decades. In the 1970s, it became public knowledge that this talc may be contaminated with asbestos.

Recent research has also helped establish the link between asbestos-contaminated talc and mesothelioma. Two 2020 studies found linked cases of mesothelioma to talc exposure. One found 75 linked cases and the other found 33 linked cases.

In these studies, the mesothelioma patients had no known source of asbestos exposure other than talcum powder. These studies have helped establish the link between asbestos-contaminated talc and mesothelioma.

There has also been an increase in public awareness of companies knowingly selling contaminated talc products. For example, a 2018 investigation from Reuters showed that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) knew about asbestos in its baby powder products for decades. J&J alone has faced thousands of talc-related asbestos lawsuits.

Asbestos-Talc Lawsuit Trend Spotlight: Plaintiffs Are Younger

The Trend

The KCIC report broke down by age the people alleging talc exposure. In 2021, these people were on average 7 years younger than those alleging exposure from other sources.

The youngest person to file a mesothelioma lawsuit in 2021 was 28 years old. The mesothelioma patient in this case alleged exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc.

What It Means

There is currently not enough data to conclude what, if anything, this trend means. Similar results have been reported in some medical research. In one study, mesothelioma patients exposed to talc were on average 11 years younger than the general average.

Additional research may increase our understanding of this trend.

Talc Exposure Plaintiffs Have Won Lawsuits Against Asbestos Companies

People injured because they used asbestos-laced talc products may have options for compensation. For example, asbestos-contaminated talc exposure has led to thousands of lawsuits against asbestos companies.

Individuals have already filed successful lawsuits against companies responsible for their exposure. For example, in 2015 a California jury awarded a mesothelioma patient $13 million. The jury found Colgate-Palmolive Company liable for exposing the patient to asbestos-contaminated talcum powder.

Other mesothelioma patients have received jury verdicts and mesothelioma settlements for talc exposure. Patients exposed to contaminated talc can seek out a mesothelioma law firm to explore their legal options.