EPA To Broaden Risk Assessments of Talc

  • EPA To Broader Risk Assessments of Talc

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will settle two lawsuits that allege the agency of failing to evaluate health risks of talc products containing asbestos which cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and ovarian cancer.

The agreement was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco on October 13. It demanded that EPA should perform an in-depth risk evaluation by December 2024 and launch studies alerting the risks of asbestos.

The lawsuits allege that EPA ignored the available studies that highlighted the talc products contain asbestos. It also claimed that the agency neglected the fact that consumer goods contain five other common types of asbestos. EPA is concerned about the risks of talcum powder as it contains asbestos fibers that could result in various forms of cancer and mesothelioma.

Health and advocacy organizations across the U.S. warned EPA on banning asbestos use in 2016, but still, 750 metric tons of asbestos is used throughout the nation. The ban was supported by doctors, health experts and consumers across the U.S.

The evaluation will help to document and deal with the harmful effects of asbestos. Each year, over 40,000 Americans die from the asbestos-caused illness. In 1989 EPA attempted to ban asbestos but did not succeed, and since then, over one million Americans have died because of asbestos exposure.

Earlier, New Jersey state judge refused to block Johnson & Johnson's (J&J) so-called Texas Two-Step move that will prevent settlements for the plaintiffs diagnosed with cancer due to J&J's talcum powder products.

The plaintiffs allege that the company intends to conduct a fraudulent transaction. The judge overseeing the lawsuit said that the court cannot proceed before evaluating the fraudulent transaction claims made by the plaintiffs.

As per court documents, J&J would use the Lone Star State's "divisive merger" statute that will split the talc liabilities into a separate entity, helping the company to file for bankruptcy and keeping the productive assets in a different entity.

The plaintiffs even accused that the company would pay comparatively less amount if allowed with bankruptcy option. The brief even claimed that the thousands of women who used talc products would continue to suffer and die without getting justice because of the move.

The court's ruling stated that the narrative provided by the plaintiff's lawyers is baseless without any legal support, and it is a move to compel J&J to settle the plaintiffs' claims. J&J continues to defend its products by stating them as safe for use.

Earlier, an Illinois jury granted a talcum trial verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson by rejecting the allegations of the family members of the woman who died of ovarian cancer.

As per the court documents, the family members of the woman sought $50 million compensation by alleging that J&J's baby powder and Shower to Shower products are dangerous and resulted in ovarian cancer for the woman.

The 69-year-old woman died in September 2016, eighteen months after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

A spokesperson for J&J said in a statement that the verdict displayed careful consideration of the science and facts presented by the attorneys. He even added that the company deeply sympathizes with those who are suffering from cancer and seek answers for the same.

The plaintiff's attorney stated that there is strong evidence to conclude that genital talc leads to ovarian cancer, and the decision will not prevent them from seeking justice for several other women who are victims of the disease because of J&J's negligence and greed.

The verdict came in favor of J&J after a three-week trial in St. Clair County, Illinois.

Earlier, an executive of J&J failed to appear before the court as a witness for cross-examination in a talcum lawsuit. J&J recalled 33,000 bottles of talc-based powder in 2019, and in May 2020, discontinued its sale throughout the U.S.

J&J's talc products are one of the most popular cosmetic products throughout the country. For the past 25 years, over 12,00 women and their families have filed lawsuits against J&J alleging that the company's baby powder causes ovarian cancer.

Asbestos in talcum powder is the major cause of cancer as it is harmful to human health and can cause lifelong ailments. A study even concluded the direct linkage of talc powder to ovarian cancer.

The company is even set to settle $26 billion in the opioid MDL as ordered by the federal judge. The company will pay the settlement amount with three major pharmaceutical distributors, Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen.

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