What is talc, where is it used and why is asbestos a concern?

Some products currently containing talc among their listed ingredients. Credit Jens Mortensen for The New York Times

(Roni Caryn Rabin/ New York Times) — Nearly 12,000 women have sued Johnson & Johnson, with most claiming the talc in its well-known product Johnson’s Baby Powder caused their ovarian cancer. They now have a new potential legal front.

In a recent case, a group of plaintiffs argued that the talc was contaminated with asbestos, a carcinogen considered unsafe at any level of exposure. A jury agreed with them, and awarded them $4.69 billion in damages in July.

What is talc, and why is asbestos relevant?
Talc is a mineral in clay mined from underground deposits. It’s the softest mineral known to man and that makes it useful in a wide range of consumer and industrial products. (…)

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