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Health issues associated with talc and legal compensation in the UK

Posted on 5th July 2018

Mesothelioma is a rare and deadly form of cancer nearly always associated with exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a mineral and there are several types including:

  • amosite
  • anthophyllite
  • actinolite
  • chrysotile
  • crocidolite
  • tremolite

All of these forms of asbestos are known to be highly carcinogenic.

Why could talc be causing issues to heath?

Talc, like asbestos, is a naturally formed mineral. Tremolite and talcum are both created by the same geological process and both are types of magnesium silicate. These minerals are often found together, which has resulted in some talc mines being contaminated with seams of tremolite. Tremolite has never been mined or sold commercially and so was of little interest in the past.

Talc Mesothelioma Cases in the UK

We are acting in a number of talc mesothelioma cases, working with American lawyers to pursue claims in the United States. Although our clients are resident in the UK the venue for their claims is the US as this is where the manufacturers of the talcum powder are based. These are complicated product liability cases with a wide range of issues raised by the lawyers acting for the various talc companies to defend them.

Johnson & Johnson Talc Litigation in US

American lawyers have been able to obtain internal documents which have been presented in court by one of the big talc manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson. On behalf of the Claimants it is said that they show that baby powder had been manufactured from mines contaminated with asbestos, that the company knew this but did nothing to prevent it. Johnson & Johnson have denied this saying that its talc products do not contain asbestos.

However, in a recent case against the company, a New Jersey jury made an award of $117 million including a punitive element of $80 million. In another case, a Californian jury awarded $27.5 million.

The link between asbestos and mesothelioma is well established. However, there is evidence that asbestos exposure can also cause ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson and other talcum powder companies are facing some 6,000 cases claiming its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products have caused ovarian cancer.

Talc and its uses

Apart from the obvious cosmetic use of talcum powder, talc was also used in many industries including paper making, plastic, paint and coatings, rubber, food, electric cable, pharmaceuticals and ceramics. Asbestos contaminated talc has been found in children’s art supplies and cosmetics.

Not all talc mines are or were contaminated with asbestos, but no process existed to remove asbestos, even if attempts had been made to detect it. Geological surveys did show the presence of tremolite. In the past the simple solution would have been to not use a contaminated seam or mine at all. If the American Claimants’ lawyers are correct and some talc companies knowingly allowed their contaminated product to be sold, then more such cases are likely to come to light and will likely be successful.

What should you do if you have been affected?

If you have been affected by asbestos you need to contact a specialist lawyer. We are acting for a number of clients and as a result you may want to speak to one of the Mesothelioma compensation solicitors in London who will be able to advise you on 0800 437 0322 or request a call back online.

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