Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from slate.com
Recent blockbuster investigations from Reuters and the New York Times allege that for decades, there was asbestos lurking in bottles of Johnson & Johnson baby powder, that the company knew about it, and that it did not share that information with the public. It sounds terrible: A cover-up, a mineral that can cause cancer after even tiny amounts of exposure, and a contaminated product that is marketed for use on infants. And it is terrible. But none of the reports answered the fundamental question for consumers: If you’ve used Johnson & Johnson baby powder on yourself or your children, just how scared should you be?
Over the last six days, I talked to two experts in the fields of environmental and occupational health, and consulted a slew of papers and fact sheets from independent sources. And while they all agree that the news reports are concerning, the topline takeaway is that individual consumers don’t have to worry as much as the terrifying word salad of “asbestos baby powder” would suggest.
Let’s back up. The Reuters investigation is pegged to the story of Darlene Coker, who sued Johnson & Johnson in 1997, and alleged that the company’s baby powder had given her a rare form of cancer, mesothelioma, which is closely linked to asbestos. Coker lost her case due to a lack of evidence to support the claim that the company’s baby powder contained any amount of the…