A consumer watchdog group recently released a report detailing how several popular brands of various school supplies may contain harmful levels of various toxins, including asbestos, which is known to cause deadly forms of cancer. Specifically, the report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) claims Playskool brand crayons test positive for deadly amounts of asbestos and the group demands the manufacturers pull the products from shelves and send warning letters to parents who may have purchased the supplies for children.

According to the consumer protection report issued by the U.S. PIRG, detailed lab results showed 36-pack Playskool crayons manufactured by Leap Year under license from Hasbro contained asbestos contaminated talc. The group claims the crayons were purchased from a Chicago-area Dollar Tree retail store but the same types of crayons are available from many major retailers and online. Other school supplies tested by U.S. PIRG showed products ranging from markers to water bottles contained disturbing amounts of other known carcinogens.

While talc does not contain asbestos itself, the two are both naturally occurring minerals often found in deposits side by side. Since the 1970s, federal regulations have required talc to be asbestos-free, but if manufacturers and their suppliers do not exercise due care, asbestos can contaminate the talc and put innocent people at risk. Right now, thousands of people across the country have filed lawsuits alleging talc-based products produced by some of the country’s largest corporations caused their mesothelioma cancer diagnosis.

A prominent asbestos researcher recently gave testimony in an asbestos mesothelioma cancer trial claiming that trace amounts of asbestos have been detected in talc sourced from mines in Vermont and Italy used in Johnson & Johnson products. That expert gave his testimony on behalf of a mesothelioma cancer patient who sued Johnson & Johnson over claims the company knew for decades about asbestos contamination in its talc-based products but refrained from placing any warning on product labels.

The case is the sixth such asbestos cancer lawsuit to go to trial against pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson, with some naming its talc supplier Imerys USA as a co-defendant, blaming the company for causing mesothelioma. The plaintiff in this case filed her claim in Los Angeles County Superior court and named, among other defendants, Johnson & Johnson, Chanel, and their supplier Imerys.

Johnson & Johnson faces thousands of other lawsuits across the country by plaintiffs who claim they also developed various forms of cancer related to using talc-based products developed and sold by the company for decades. Recently, a Missouri jury awarded a group of 22 plaintiffs a total of $4.69 billion in compensatory and punitive damages for their asbestos cancer diagnosis that was caused by talc products marketed and sold by Johnson & Johnson. That very same verdict was also upheld by the trial court judge, clearing a major legal hurdle for plaintiffs trying to be made whole again.

The New Jersey state Supreme Court recently handed down a significant ruling that will have an important impact on asbestos cancer litigation in the state and potentially nationwide for claims against Honeywell International and other asbestos companies. The ruling centers around the insurance many of these asbestos companies retain in order to shield themselves financially from verdicts and settlements in mesothelioma cancer lawsuits for claims related to asbestos-contaminated products.

In its decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed lower state court rulings holding that a policyholder is not required to contribute in the allocation of insurance liability for periods when the relevant insurance coverage was unavailable to that policyholder in the marketplace. What this means is that insurance companies indemnifying asbestos companies may still be on the hook for legal bills even if the manufacturer did not have continuous coverage from the insurance company in question during the time the defective products were manufactured.

The case arose because Honeywell International, which once manufactured brake pads with asbestos in them, sought coverage from its carrier, Continental Insurance Company, for thousands of mesothelioma cancer claims brought against it. Continental attempted to avoid paying the claims, arguing that Honeywell International did not have coverage during the time periods in which the company manufactured the asbestos-laden products that brought on the lawsuits.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), contrary to recent media reports, the agency is moving closer to closing loopholes on the importation and manufacturing of the deadly carcinogen, asbestos. The EPA cited its newly received powers under a bipartisan Obama-era law that gives the agency the authority to impose a new decision making process known as “significant new use rule,” or SNUR, which will create a “regulatory backstop where none existed before.”

Recent reports across the media indicated that the EPA was actually considering pulling back on strengthening federal regulations against the once-commonly used insulation material responsible for thousands of new cases of mesothelioma cancer each year. Specifically, safety experts asserted that the EPA was actually creating a process by which asbestos companies could submit requests for using the carcinogen in ways such as adhesive, roofing material, and floor tile.

The EPA gained this authority under a 2016 amendment to a decades-old chemical safety law that required the agency to periodically review the hazards posed by certain chemicals and toxic substances that could pose a danger to the public. According to an EPA spokesperson, the agency is currently reviewing the status of certain grandfathered exemptions to federal asbestos bans to determine if these methods are still in production, then closing the loopholes to halt any further production.

Justice recently came for the widow of a former auto mechanic who passed away after a battle with mesothelioma brought on by years of exposure to asbestos fibres while working at a large chemical company his estate claimed was responsible for the cancer diagnosis. The settlement came during the middle of a trial in a Philadelphia court, allowing the defendants to end the litigation without having to disclose the terms of the resolution or admit fault for manufacturing the asbestos-contaminated materials that caused the victim to become sick.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, the victim worked in a Gulf Oil Gas Station in South Fork from 1957-1958 performing various auto repairs with asbestos-containing brake shoes. The deceased also worked for chemical company Rohm & Haas from 1959-1997 at its Bristol facility as well as its Bristol and Croydon plants where he was allegedly exposed to asbestos fibers in thermal insulation contained on piping, kettles, boilers, valves, pumps, turbines and other equipment.

Asbestos was once commonly used in a variety of industrial, commercial, and military applications for its heat-resistant and malleable properties as an insulation. Unfortunately for workers and installers, the material is also carcinogenic and directly linked to developing the deadly cancer, mesothelioma.

A Missouri trial judge recently upheld a substantial $4.69 billion verdict in favor of 22 plaintiffs and their families in an asbestos talcum powder lawsuit against New Jersey-based pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson. Soon after the judge upheld the verdict, Johnson & Johnson continued to deny responsibility in the case and vowed to appeal the decision and have the award overturned.

In his orders, the Circuit Court judge for the City of St. Louis noted there was no reason to further delay certification of the award for appeal and so affirmed the jury’s decision. Johnson & Johnson had chosen not to file any post judgement motions asking the court to reduce or set aside the verdict entirely, thus allowing it to take its case to state appeals courts to try and challenge the jury’s will on technical grounds.

The plaintiffs in the case alleged that they or their relatives developed various types of cancer, including mesothelioma, from years of using Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder, Shower to Shower, and other talc-based products developed by the company. While Johnson & Johnson denied its products contained talcum powder or had been talc-free for several decades, the plaintiffs showed internal company documents to the contrary.

A St. Louis jury recently handed down a substantial $550 million verdict in an asbestos talcum powder lawsuit in which several women accused pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson of causing their serious medical conditions. The same jury will also decide whether or not to award additional punitive damages to the plaintiffs as compensation for higher counts of negligence alleged in the asbestos cancer lawsuit.

According to the talcum powder asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in St. Louis Circuit Court, the 22 female plaintiffs developed ovarian cancer due to the asbestos-contaminated talc contained in products the victims used over a number of years. Sadly, six of the victims in this case passed away due to their ovarian cancer, leaving their surviving family members to carry on their claims and seek justice against powerful companies putting profits before people.

While Johnson & Johnson has claimed for years that its talc-based products are safe and contain no known carcinogens, juries across the country have disagreed, handing down significant verdicts on behalf of plaintiffs. Johnson & Johnson faces an estimated 9,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits across the country, with plaintiffs alleging that the talc-based products they used caused their cancer diagnoses, including mesothelioma.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring, fibrous mineral which was widely used for insulation and fire resistant materials in construction, ship building, and automobile parts. It is a material used due its strength and ability to insulate and resist heat, electricity, and chemical attack.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency banned some uses of asbestos back in 1973¹. However, it remains inside millions of buildings and homes today. It still continues to be used in some products imported from outside the country, such as clutches for vehicles and brake pads.

Asbestos is fibrous, and when these needle-like particles are dislodged and become airborne, they are inhaled into the lungs, where they become embedded in the lining of the lungs, creating irritation and eventually, cancer. People also can be exposed by swallowing the fibers. Generally, those exposed to asbestos develop cancer within the first 15 years of being first exposed, according to the American Cancer Society².

Juries continue to rule against Johnson and Johnson, a major producer of talcum powder, in lawsuits brought by women with cancer who contend that the talc asbestos in the powder has caused it. J&J claims that its famous baby powder has never contained asbestos. However, juries have found the talcum powder industry’s defense less compelling than the plaintiffs’. A Missouri court has ordered J&J to compensate more than twenty women who contracted ovarian cancer after using talcum powder, for a total of over $4.6 billion in damages.

How Can Talcum Power Cause Cancer?

The claimants alleged that they contracted ovarian cancer from use of J&J products, including the company’s popular body powder, because the talcum products contained asbestos. J&J has announced its plans to appeal the case. The company is now faced with thousands of legal claims from cancer victims who believe they contracted ovarian cancer from talcum powder made by J&J.

The American Cancer Society declares on its website that talcum powder-based products have been asbestos-free since the 1970s. Johnson & Johnson, one of the major manufacturers of such products, is equally vocal about claiming that its well-known talc-based baby powder does not, and never has, contained asbestos. Juries hearing claims to the contrary continue to cast doubt the industry position.

The latest reflection of this came in mid-July with a panel in Missouri ordering Johnson & Johnson to pay nearly $4.7 billion in compensatory and punitive damages to a group of 22 women. The women alleged that baby powder and other J&J talc-based products did contain asbestos and caused them to contract ovarian cancer. Johnson & Johnson vows to appeal the case. Meanwhile, the company is named in thousands of additional actions claiming talc-related cancer and they continue to work their way through the courts.

Many can and do propose the argument that there is no solid scientific evidence that there is any link between talc and ovarian cancer. But the fact remains that, in its natural state, asbestos appears in talc. And asbestos is known to cause cancer.

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