the white powder we associate with dusting babies after diapers changes, or adults after showers, or to absorb moisture in private areas or as a foot deodorizer, is known as talcum powder. 

It is made from a clay mineral, hydrous magnesium silicate, which is also used in many other industries including making paper, plastics, paints, rubber, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and ceramics. It is used as a coating for the inside of inner tubes and rubber gloves. However, because talc is found naturally in close proximity to asbestos, a known carcinogen, it has been found to contain asbestos due to contamination it is banned in the European Union and has limited commercial use in Canada, especially where babies are concerned. Yale School of Medicine reproductive services doctors say the use of this product can be an unnecessary risk.

Safe baby products are extremely important to Metro Integrative, and since people still ask for talc in the store, we want you to understand why we do not carry or recommend this common baby care product. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents do not use baby powder, not only because it is a known carcinogen, but also because it poses a risk of respiratory problems, including breathing trouble and serious lung damage, if the baby inhales it. The fine particles tend to become airborne easily while dusting. The alternative recommendation for babies is the zinc oxide-based ointments, to protect sensitive skin from diaper rashes by making a barrier. For people who still want to dust, Metro carries a cornstarch product by Burt’s Bees Baby, and an arrowroot powder by CocoKind. We still, however, highly recommend being careful about putting too much powder in the air, since it can cause respiratory irritation if inhaled.

For adults, the danger with talc is not so much the particles in the air, but the potential of the product being contaminated with asbestos. The main manufacturer of talcum powder has had to pay out millions in damages to women who developed cancer after using the company’s talc-based baby powder for decades. A 63-year-old woman who proved their talc caused her ovarian cancer received $417 million, in May of 2017.  The company also paid out $110 million to a woman who alleged her cancer was caused by baby powder. And in October of 2017, a Missouri woman was awarded more than $70 million for a similar claim.

Metro Integrative has your best health in mind when choosing products. The beauty lines we carry that contain powder are non-carcinogenic. If you are still looking for dusting powders, selecting powders with cornstarch, rice starch, or a herbal base which are much safer.

Sally Warren, PhD Naturopathic Doctor
Metro Integrative Pharmacy


This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition. The information in this article is for educational purposes only.