Johnson & Johnson has issued a voluntary recall of one lot of its talcum Baby Powder after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found traces of asbestos, which causes cancer, the company announced Friday.
The company said it was issuing the recall out of ‘an abundance of caution,’ as the amount of asbestos it found was ‘sub-trace,’ and limited to samples from a single bottle.
Asbestos is a carcinogen, known to cause mesothelioma – and tens of thousands of people have sued J&J, claiming that long-term exposure to the substance in its Baby Powder gave them cancer, which affects the lining of the chest.
Citing FDA tests from last month, J&J Said that it’s products broadly do not contain asbestos, but it’s stock prices fell by 2.6 percent ahead of Friday trading, suggesting the public may be responding with skepticism.
Asbestos naturally forms alongside talc, the mineral base for Baby Powder, in nature.
But this doesn’t always happen, so talc mines are supposed to be tested for asbestos and, if they’re positive, are to be avoided.
For decades, J&J claimed that its powder was asbestos-free.
But a Reuters investigation published last year suggested that that wasn’t always the case – and the company knew.
According to the report, from 1971 through the early 2000s, Baby Powder periodically tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, and company higher-ups did not disclose the findings.
Meanwhile, a growing number of Americans were developing mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the tissue that lines and protects certain organs, including the lungs and chest cavity.
It accounts for just 0.3 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the US and, for those with pleural mesothelioma, the average survival time is only about 12 to 14 months, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.