At a Glance
On August 11, 2022, Johnson & Johnson announced they will stop the global sale of talc-based baby powder and finally transition to a safer corn-starch based formula for all its customers by 2023. This victory is a long time coming and is the result of a global-wide movement of health and justice organizations, government agencies, investigative journalists and concerned people who took action to hold Johnson & Johnson (J&J) accountable for the sale of asbestos-contaminated talcum powder and its links to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.
Background on Talc Asbestos Contamination
Talc can become contaminated by asbestos during the mining process because naturally occurring veins of asbestos can run through talc deposits. Johnson & Johnson KNEW since the late 1950s that the talc used in its iconic baby powder was sometimes contaminated with asbestos, known to cause ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. For decades, J&J kept this contamination a secret from the public and regulators. In May of 2020, J&J announced it would stop selling its talc-based baby powder in the United States & Canada (although sell-downs of remaining product continued). This announcement was followed shortly with public statements from J&J acknowledging the leadership of Black Lives Matter and committing to racial equity in response to the unjust police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and hundreds of other Black men and women. These statements proved to be superficial and hollow: for two more years, the healthcare giant belittled health, and racist targeting & marketing concerns from the global community, and refused to initiate a worldwide ban on its toxic talc, choosing instead to expose Black and Brown communities around the world to this hazardous product. Until now.
Timeline of Johnson & Johnson Toxic Talc Campaign
Companies like Johnson & Johnson have long created, manipulated, and capitalized off cultural norms, actively targeting Black and Brown women without disclosing the potential risks associated with use of this product, even as internal J&J documents reference concerns linked to carcinogenic effects of its talc-based powders. This is an important victory, but also one filled with decades of tragedy, and outrageous actions and practices from an industry that continues to put profit and bottom-line over the health and safety of people.
The following timeline is a snapshot of this tragedy and of the path toward victory. For more information, links and resources click here!