Statement from Toxics Program Manager Muhannad Malas on Johnson & Johnson’s announcement to stop selling talc-based baby powder in Canada and the U.S.

Toronto, Ont. – Johnson & Johnson’s new announcement to phase out its iconic talcum-based baby powder products from retail stores is an important move that will have protective benefits for the health of Canadians. Environmental Defence welcomes this decision and urges the company to provide a specific timeline to complete the phase-out and expand its decision to cover markets outside Canada and the U.S.

Talcum powder (or talc) is a mineral long-used as an ingredient in baby powder due to its drying properties. Consumers have become increasingly concerned about exposure to talc due to evidence of ovarian cancer risk, especially when applied around the female genital area, and adverse impacts on the lungs when inhaled. Additionally, testing has consistently revealed contamination with cancer-causing asbestos fibres in personal care products containing talc including baby powder.

Thousands of lawsuits have been brought forward in recent years by consumers who have used Johnson & Johnson’s product and developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma. The science on the risks posed by talc has compelled the federal government in 2018 to propose to classify talc as a toxic substance under our toxics law, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) – the first step in regulating or banning the ingredient.

Environmental Defence calls on the federal government to follow the lead of science and leading manufacturers and ban powder-form talc in personal care products. The government should also move swiftly to update Canada’s toxics law as promised to ensure strong and quick action on harmful chemicals in consumer products.

About ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENCE ( Environmental Defence is a leading Canadian advocacy organization that works with government, industry and individuals to defend clean water, a safe climate and healthy communities.

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