If you've worked in the construction or manufacturing industries, are a veteran or have even used talcum powder, you might be at risk of asbestos exposure.

Asbestos was commonly used for its insulative properties in multiple industries. Dating as far back as the 1930s to build roofs, walls, ceilings and in factories. To mitigate the risk of asbestos exposure and as the preventative measure, asbestos can still be found lurking around in the structures of old buildings and baby powders.

The Sweet-Scented Killer

Johnson and Johnson invented scented talcum powder in 1893 and since then, it has been widely used by the world's population. Promoted as baby powder, with a fresh perfumed smell, talc became the go-to solution to promote hygiene and cleanliness for men, women, and children.

Over the past few years, it's come to light that a not-so-trusty hygiene product has been laced with asbestos fibers all along.

Talcum powder and asbestos are two naturally occurring minerals with a very similar composition. The two minerals naturally form together and prior to 1973, unregulated mining processes have left many people diagnosed with terminal illnesses and picking up the pieces of their lives.

At the time, there was no reason to suspect the long-term side effects of using talc but over recent years, more of its users have developed illnesses from the use of consumer-based talc products and are now paying the price with their health.

Which Products Contain Talc?

Talcum powder is used by many popular brands around the world and can be found in numerous products from household items to industrial grade use.

Cosmetic-grade talc can be found in its most popular form as a baby powder but can also be found in makeup, blush, and eyeshadow. Everyone from young babies to the elderly is using talc-based products and the dangers of everyday use have become fatal.

Industrial-grade talc is used on a commercial scale and can be found in paint, wood putty, ceramic glaze, and clay.


Research into environmental asbestos exposure has proven there's a direct link between carcinogenic asbestos and a certain form of cancer.

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer, aggressively attacking the body and predominantly forming around the body's lung tissue. It can also form around the heart (Pericardial Mesothelioma) and abdomen area (Peritoneal Mesothelioma).

Causing symptoms such as:

  • Chest pains
  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Swelling
  • Coughing
  • Heart murmurs
  • Shortness of breath

According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, 3000 people are diagnosed with Mesothelioma every year, in the United States.

Survival rates are slim, ranging from 1-16 percent, depending on which stage the cancer is in. The long latency period of prolonged asbestos exposure and the relation to mesothelioma make the insidious disease difficult to diagnose. It can take up to 40 years to fully develop in some cases, making Mesothelioma too far gone to be treatable.

Who's at Risk?

Occupational asbestos exposure is very common among mesothelioma victims. From the printing industry to the military, the majority of cases are diagnosed from working in a high-risk industry that used asbestos as part of their production process.


Served in the army between 1940 - 1980? The likelihood is that you were exposed to asbestos. The nasty mineral was widely used in the military, in all areas of the forces. The navy was the largest section of the army to use asbestos and many people are now diagnosed with mesothelioma, due to prolonged exposure.

Other industry related exposure include:

  • Construction workers - Working in the construction industry produces its own set of risks, however, before the 1980s, thousands of products contained asbestos.
  • Industrial workers - Mechanics, trade laborers, machinists, and many other workers may have been exposed to asbestos over the years. It was prevalent in paper, textiles, gaskets and fireproofing materials and industrial insulators are at the highest risk of exposure.
  • Firefighters - Airborne fibers from damaged products can have a life-threatening impact on the line of duty. Protective firefighter equipment such as clothing, boots, and helmets also contain asbestos.
  • Power Plant Workers - A study found that power plant workers are one of the highest groups to be affected by asbestos exposure. Heat resistant materials and products such as, pipe insulation and fireproofing spray is one of the most common sources of industry-related asbestos exposure.
  • Shipyard Worker - Workers on shipyards and the construction of vessels experienced high amounts of asbestos exposure. Around a third of asbestos, suits are filed by government shipyard workers and veterans, resulting in workers being awarded in millions of dollars in compensation.
  • Secondary Exposure - Asbestos fibers from the related industries can get embedded on skin, hair, and clothes; resulting in secondary exposure to families and other residents.

Fatality Rate of Asbestos

In 1990 OSHA, estimated approximately 568,000 workers in the manufacturing, production and service industries were exposed to asbestos. It's estimated that 114,000 construction workers were exposed during that time. Furthermore, it's estimated that 1.3 million workers in general industries continued to be exposed to asbestos in the work environment.

asbestos related deaths chart

The mortality rate of asbestosis is likely to trail behind the rate of people exposed to asbestos, due to the latency period taking up to 40 years in some cases. The research indicates that deaths from the 1960s to the 1990s are 20 fold, implying the chronic nature of the disease means that victims exposed could live for a number of years before showing any symptoms and being diagnosed.

malignant mesothelioma deaths chart

The latency period is also reflected in research by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, showing an incline in fatality rates for Mesothelioma, in the United States.

Getting Compensation and Legal Help

Many sufferers of asbestos exposure and victims diagnosed with mesothelioma have taken the fight against the corporations that made them ill.

Involuntary asbestos exposure shouldn't be something that anyone has to suffer through and negligent companies should be held accountable.

The last few years have seen popular cases against Johnson and Johnson for their asbestos-laced talcum powder. In an asbestos exposure lawsuit, a couple was awarded $117m, a New Jersey banker was diagnosed with cancer, after decades of using talcum powder.

Large companies want to cover up their use of asbestos and it doesn't seem fair. If you've been diagnosed or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos, you're not alone. You didn't know that prolonged hours in the military or using baby powder would cost your life.

More and more people are rising up and coming forward. Seeking legal help doesn't have to be a daunting task.

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