This Product You Use Every Day May Contain Asbestos, Study Says

You might want to take a look at some of the items you use regularly.

When it comes to getting ready every day, many of us have our go-to products that we use without a second thought. However, you might want to start taking a look at exactly what you're putting on your body—especially since you could be subjecting yourself to toxic ingredients. In fact, a new study found that about 15 percent of talc-based cosmetic products contain asbestos. For more on this worrying discovery, read on, and for other dangerous ingredients you should be aware of, If You See This on Your Shampoo Label, Toss It Immediately.

The study, which was published Nov. 24 in the Environmental Health Insights journal, was commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and conducted by the Scientific Analytical Institute (SAI). In their research, the EWG identified more than 2,000 personal care products sold in the last three years that contain talc—and this includes eye shadows, foundation, blush, face, and body powders.

For the study, the SAI analyzed 21 of these talc-based products, purchased from retail stores in both San Francisco and Washington, D.C, as well as from one online retailer. They tested seven toy make-up kits, seven eye shadow palettes, three face powders, two body powders, one blush, and one contouring palette. Ultimately, 14 percent of the products in this small sample size tested positive for asbestos.

The researchers discovered tremolite asbestos in two of the eye shadow palettes and in one of the toy make-up kits. One of the eye shadow palettes also tested positive for actinolite asbestos. In the toy make-up kits, one eye shadow was positive out of the three shades tested. And among the eye shadow palettes, 20 to 40 percent of the shades were contaminated.

"The lab repeatedly finds asbestos in products made with talc, including cosmetics marketed to children," Sean Fitzgerald, the head of the SAI, said in a statement. "It's outrageous that a precise method for testing personal care products for the presence of asbestos exists, but the cosmetics industry isn't required to use it."

This is not the first time asbestos has been discovered in cosmetic products. An investigation by the United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019 found that nine talc-based products out of 52 tested were contaminated with asbestos. And while they issued warnings to consumers about the contaminated products, according to the study, the FDA cannot issue mandatory recalls for these products, and also does not require cosmetic products to be tested for asbestos.

Authors for the study say their aim is to "bring awareness to the potential hazard in cosmetics," as asbestos has been linked to many health problems. In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has identified four types of cancers that can be caused by asbestos. Keep reading for more information on these health risks, and for more things that could be harming you, This Surprising Staple in Your Kitchen Could Be Toxic, Research Shows.


doctor with sad patient

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that is directly caused by inhaling asbestos. According to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 45,200 people died from mesothelioma in the U.S. between 1999 and 2015, despite decades of asbestos regulations. And for more cancer risks, You Should Get Screened for This Cancer Earlier Than You Thought.

Ovarian cancer

woman talking to her doctor in the waiting room with forms

The IARC conducted research in 2009 that connected asbestos exposure to ovarian cancer. And a 2011 meta-analysis of 18 studies further proved this theory, with researchers concluding that "exposure to asbestos is causally associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer." And for more important health issues, learn The Riskiest Health Mistake Women Keep Making.

Lung cancer

an older woman talking to her doctor while in the office

According to the Asbestos Awareness Center, research has discovered that around 3 to 4 percent of lung cancer cases can be linked to asbestos exposure—especially exposure to long, thin asbestos fibers. These fibers are estimated to cause 2,000 to 3,000 asbestos-related lung cancer deaths in the U.S. every year. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Laryngeal cancer

Female doctor wearing surgical mask examining infected patient. Mature healthcare worker checking mid adult man. They are at pharmacy.

While the highest risk factors for laryngeal cancer are linked to narcotic and alcohol use, The Mesothelioma Center says asbestos has also been linked to the cancer. A notable 2006 study commissioned by the National Institute of Health determined (NIH) that asbestos exposure was a definite cause of laryngeal cancer, and the cancer risk was also heightened when exposure amounts were increased. And if you want to stay healthy, These Are the Warning Signs of Throat Cancer You Need to Know.

Filed Under