BACKGROUND:Cosmetic talcum powder products have been used for decades. The inhalation of talc may cause lung fibrosis in the form of granulomatose nodules called talcosis. Exposure to talc has also been suggested as a causative factor in the development of ovarian carcinomas, gynecological tumors, and mesothelioma.
PURPOSE:To investigate one historic brand of cosmetic talcum powder associated with mesothelioma in women.
METHODS:Transmission electron microscope (TEM) formvar-coated grids were prepared with concentrations of one brand of talcum powder directly, on filters, from air collections on filters in glovebox and simulated bathroom exposures and human fiber burden analyses. The grids were analyzed on an analytic TEM using energy-dispersive spectrometer (EDS) and selected-area electron diffraction (SAED) to determine asbestos fiber number and type.
RESULTS:This brand of talcum powder contained asbestos and the application of talcum powder released inhalable asbestos fibers. Lung and lymph node tissues removed at autopsy revealed pleural mesothelioma. Digestions of the tissues were found to contain anthophyllite and tremolite asbestos.
DISCUSSION:Through many applications of this particular brand of talcum powder, the deceased inhaled asbestos fibers, which then accumulated in her lungs and likely caused or contributed to her mesothelioma as well as other women with the same scenario.
Int J Occup Environ Health. 2014 Oct;20(4):318-32
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