There has been growing concern among the public as well as the FDA that there has been asbestos contamination in products sold primarily to young teens by Claire’s and Justice Tween Retailers.

In response to the public concerns, the new Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act of 2019 was introduced into Congress. The bill regards tremolite contamination in children’s makeup products. Tremolite is a form of asbestos which is found as an impurity in talc mines.

Many cosmetic products—not to mention baby powders, like Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder with talc—contain talc, and that talc could potentially cause asbestos. 

Claire’s Refuses to Recall Talc-Containing Products

While Justice Tween Retailers recalled products suspected of containing talc back in 2017, Claire’s refused to recall its products, despite FDA requests however later in 2019 Claire’s did issue a voluntary recall of the products.

The FDA stated that “each day, cosmetic products are sold…some to children under the age of 18, still in the formative years of development.”

These talc-containing products may also contain asbestos.

The ADAO, while being encouraged to hear that the FDA has chosen to take action on this issue, have questions as to why it was not done sooner. 

FDA Unable to Regulate the Cosmetic Industry

The FDA, for its part, has repeatedly stated its inability to regulate the cosmetics industry—in short, the agency is unable to force Claire’s—or any other retailer—to recall potentially dangerous products.

A Reuters report discussed a “confidential” memo  from a Johnson & Johnson applied research director in 1975 which stated (regarding the philosophy on talc safety studies) that philosophy “…has allowed us to neutralize or hold in check data already generated by investigators who question the safety of talc.” 

The memo went on to say that the company would “minimize the risk of possible self-generation of scientific data which may be politically or scientifically embarrassing.” One of the early studies of the potential dangers of talc was commissioned by J & J, paid for by J & J, and, it appears, the researchers were even told the results the company wanted.

Once those results were given, the company hired a ghostwriter to redraft the article to present the altered findings to the public. 

Johnson & Johnson Benefits from Doctored Study on the Safety of Talc

Johnson & Johnson “got a lot of mileage” out of the study, as it was cited multiple times over the years, and concern expressed about the possible health hazards from consumer exposure to cosmetic talc was deemed to be “unwarranted.”

On March 12, 2019, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform convened for a hearing on carcinogens in consumer products. One of the primary reasons for this hearing was to discuss the potential health risks of talc in consumer products as well as to discuss the regulation of cosmetics in the U.S. 

Congressman Says Asbestos is a Carcinogen with No Safe Levels of Use

During that hearing, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois stated that because of a loophole in the statute which empowers the FDA, that agency is unable to order a recall of personal care or cosmetics which might contain asbestos.

Krishnamoorthi went on to state that asbestos is a carcinogen with no safe levels of use—and that it is unacceptable for our adults, teens, and children to be exposed to the carcinogen. 

Worried About Asbestos Exposure? Contact Us

Our firm focuses on the area of asbestos law and has conducted extensive research on the impact of occupational and secondary exposure to asbestos.

If you or a family member feel that you may have contracted mesothelioma due to contact with asbestos, call 504-299-1214 and speak to one of our attorneys about your legal options.