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Talc Results Are In: FDA Releases 6-part Report

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Concerns over the presence of asbestos in talc-containing cosmetics have recently escalated. In response, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) launched an investigation over a year ago to gain a better sense of the how widespread the issue may be.

According to a report by the agency, in September 2018, AMA was contracted for one year to test talc-containing cosmetics for the presence of asbestos fibers. Said talc-containing powder cosmetic products were selected based on various factors and purchased by the FDA, and provided to AMA as blinded samples. 

Products varied by type of product, price range, popularity on social media and in ads, children’s products and based on third-party allegations of contamination with asbestos. The agency underlined that the occurrence of any positive samples in 2019 testing should not be interpreted as reflecting the overall frequency of positive samples in the marketplace.    

The results showed 43 samples were negative while 9 were positive. In the case of the positive samples, upon receiving such test results, the agency notes it immediately notified the public about the results, and worked closely with the affected companies on their subsequent recalls.

For testing purposes, AMA used polarized light microscopy (PLM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) to detect and quantify mineral particles suspected of being a form of asbestos. TEM is reportedly the most sensitive testing method currently used for the detection and quantification of asbestos minerals.

The FDA will continue its talc sampling assignment throughout 2020, with 50 samples selected for blinded testing by AMA, with final results reported when available in early 2021. If the FDA finds positive samples, the agency will once again inform the public of the results, and will work closely with the companies involved to remove affected products from the market.

The final 6-part findings can be viewed on the FDA website.