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Asbestos Still Found in Products Today

These days just about everyone is aware of the dangers of asbestos.  Sure, there are some lobbyists and politicians who try to downplay the dangers of the deadly asbestos fibers, but their claims are not getting much traction anymore.

Asbestos Cases Boston However, what many people may not know is that asbestos is still finding its way into consumer products, and there are a variety of reasons for this.  One reason is that some companies take shortcuts on safety testing and do not take the time and spend the money to make sure their supplies are truly safe. This also applies to lead and other dangerous materials, and to make matters worse, a lot of the contaminated products our Boston mesothelioma lawyers have seen over the years are intended for use by children.  In addition to companies not taking the time to properly safety test their products, we also see an influx of products being imported by manufacturers that in some cases have been shown to not care about the safety of their products.  There have even been cases where toxic material was being used intentionally to make the product cheaper.  While there is a federal product safety office that has the authority to test products, the agency does not have enough money or personnel to test every product coming in through customs or manufactured in the United States.

One of the things news stations like to do is consumer investigations to make sure products are safe.  These segments often get good ratings and capture the interest of the public, because who wouldn’t want to know if a product they are using contains asbestos or some other toxic substances.

According to a recent news article from ABC News 11, a popular makeup product marketed to young girls and teens was tested and found to contain asbestos.  The product, called “Just Shine Shimmer Powder” was sold at Justice stores and on their website.  The company also markets fashion products to tween girls.

The news team did not say why they had the product tested, or if they were operating on some type of tip, but they say they several samples to a materials testing lab to find out what was in the product.  It should be noted that when asbestos is suspected in a residential or commercial building in Massachusetts, and any renovations or demolition work is being done, samples must be taken by a certified inspector who will send those samples to a materials testing laboratory.  Even if the property owner is sure the material contains asbestos, testing is still required, and there are variety of reasons for this.

One of the reasons testing is required is because the department of health does not want anyone guessing about whether some substance is or is not deadly asbestos. While it might seem safe to err on the side of caution and just say that it is asbestos, guessing in any direction can lead to people guessing that the substance in question is not asbestos, and that can lead to many problems, including the death of innocent people.

Another reason that testing is required is because testing provides us with hard data that can be studied and used to map incidents that may be valuable in preventing future cases of malignant mesothelioma.  Additionally, the test will also determine what type of asbestos is present. As we have discussed on other posts on this blog, asbestos is not a manmade substance.  It is actually a naturally occurring mineral comprised of six silica elements. However, it can be varied in type based upon how the silica elements are structured in any particular sample of asbestos.

In this instance, the materials testing lab allegedly found asbestos in the makeup, as well other heavy metals that have been listed as known carcinogens. The lab director said that if children came into contact with this make up and inhaled the powder, which is very likely given that it was meant to applied in powder form to the face, the child could die from malignant mesothelioma 30 or 40 years later.

When asbestos fibers are inhaled, they can become lodged in a protective layer of tissue known as the mesothelium.  This is why the disease is called mesothelioma.  The fibers cannot be expelled by the human body, and doctors have no way to remove them without removing the tissue in which they are embedded. This would require removal of the lungs or other organs, which a doctor is certainly not going to do to an otherwise healthy child.  After a period of typically between 20 and 50 years (30 to 40 being the most common as indicated by the lab director) they can metastasize into the deadly form of cancer known as malignant mesothelioma. Once this has happened, the victim will typically get symptoms such as chest pains, stomach pains, shortness of breath, and other similar issues and go to a doctor to find out what is wrong.  At this point, the doctor will often have no choice but to inform the patient that they have very little time left to live.  The majority of patients who do not catch the malignant mesothelioma at very early stage only live around 18 months after developing symptoms.

One question that many likely have is how this makeup becomes contaminated.  First, it is important to note that it is very unlikely, assuming the makeup is actually contaminated, that the supplier intentionally included it.  It should also be noted that as soon as the company learned of this investigation, they immediately pulled all suspect products from store shelves and listed all products on the website as being out of stock.  It is clear that the company does not wish to take any chances that anyone else could be harmed going forward. The company said it would not comment on the investigation at this time, other than to say they are starting their own investigation into the product.

The makeup in question contained talc.  While talc has been shown to cause some issues of its own, such as reproductive problems in some cases, talc is not asbestos. It is, however, another mineral that forms in the same locations as asbestos, so they are often contaminated with each other.  This is also true of vermiculite, which is safe by itself.

In this case, it was the talc that was found to contain the deadly asbestos fibers. This talc should have been tested to make sure it was not contaminated with asbestos, but it seems that such testing was not done by the manufacturer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that talc used in cosmetics cannot contain any measurable quantity of asbestos.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

I-Team finds asbestos in makeup, July 13, 2017, By Diane Wilson, ABC 11 News

More Blog Entries:
Montana Settles Asbestos Claims for $25M, Feb. 19, 2017, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog