FDA calls meeting on standardization of talc testing methods

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (LightFieldStudios)
© Getty Images \ (LightFieldStudios)

Related tags Talc Asbestos Fda safety Ingredients

In early February, the public health agency will hold a public meeting on testing methods for asbestos in talc and for cosmetic products containing talc.

The FDA’s full-day Public Meeting on Testing Methods for Asbestos in Talc and Cosmetic Products Containing Talc is scheduled to take place on Wednesday 4 February at the FDA campus in Silver Spring, Maryland.

According to the administration’s announcement, “The purpose of the public meeting is to discuss and obtain scientific data and information on topics related to testing methodologies, terminology, and criteria that can be applied to characterize and measure asbestos and other potentially harmful elongate mineral particles (EMPs) that may be present as contaminants in talc and consumer products, including cosmetics, containing talc as an ingredient.”

What the FDA meeting on talc testing will cover

The main focus of next month’s open meeting on talc testing will be preliminary recommendations for talc testing protocols.

The recommendations, published earlier this month, were drawn up by the Interagency Working Group on Asbestos in Consumer Products (IWGACP), which has been working on the topic since 2018. The meeting will also cover scientist methodologies, terminology, and criteria that relate to the standardization of talc testing methods.

How and why suppliers and beauty makers are testing talc

Talc, because of the sites where it is mined, can contain asbestos (which is hazardous to human health).

As the IWGAC preliminary recommendations state, “Raw material talc is obtained from mines that may also contain asbestos and related minerals. Removal of asbestos by purification of talc ores is extremely difficult. Thus, judicious selection of talc deposits and mining locations within the deposits is necessary to avoid contamination with asbestos and similar biologically active mineral particles. It is imperative that appropriate monitoring methods are available to detect asbestos in talc to ensure its suitability as a raw material for use as an ingredient in consumer products.”

Current testing guidelines are outdated, inadequate, and were established for bulk ingredient testing. “Because no single published testing method can be followed, as written, for the analysis of asbestos in talc and talc-containing consumer products, analytical laboratories appear to be adapting published testing methods that were intended for analysis of asbestos in air or building materials,”​ explains the IWGAC’s recommendations document.

“Thus, to help reconcile potential discrepancies in reports of analysis, IWGACP recommends the development of a standardized method specifically for the analysis of asbestos and other biologically active EMPs in talc and talc-containing consumer products for use by government regulatory authorities, industry, and contracting laboratories.”

Read the full IWGAC preliminary recommendation here​. Submit comments in writing for inclusion on the FDA meeting docket until March 4, 2020 here​. And register to attend the February 4 meeting in person here​.  



Deanna Utroske is a leading voice in the cosmetics and personal care industry as well as in the indie beauty movement. As Editor of CosmeticsDesign.com, she writes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders.
Deanna will be speaking next at the Uplink Live event in LA this month​ (save 10% on tickets with code: CD10) and at Green Beauty Night in February​.

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