What is Talc?

  • Talc, or talcum, is a clay mineral consisting of hydrated magnesium silicate.


What are its uses?

  • It is widely used in cosmetics, paints and ceramics.


What are the risks?

  • Breathing in products containing talc can lead to coughing, difficulty in breathing, decreased lung function, scarring of the lung tissue.These effects may get worse over time.
  • The fine particles of talcum powder posed the same health risks as particulate matter (PM) in polluted air as they could get lodged deep in the lungs.
  • Using products containing talc in the genital area may cause ovarian cancer.
  • Use of talcum powder to get rid of sweat and the odour clogs the pores, which are supposed to remain open. This is the main cause of local infections like folliculitis, boils, skin eruptions
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics has warned against the use of baby powder due to the risk of serious respiratory problems. It says that the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified perineal use of talc-based body powder as possibly carcinogenic to humans on the basis of limited evidence in humans.



  • Contact with the skin (excluding the female genital area) and mouth is, however, not a health concern.


Why it worries India?

  • In India, talcum powder is among the most widely known talc-based self-care products.
  • From fighting perspiration and odour, to helping lend the user a ‘fairer’ skin tone, a large number of Indian consumers rely on talcum powder and the market is estimated to be worth about ₹700 crore.


Criticism of the draft:

  • The draft by Health Canada appears to rely on a select review of the evidence and does not appear to include the largest, most recent studies on the use of cosmetic talc .
  • Health Canada also relies on a handful of conclusions by third parties, which also were not based on a review of the wider body of evidence.
  • The weight of the evidence does not support this draft conclusion.
Section : Environment & Ecology