Talc - information sheet
CAS Registry Number 14807-96-6
- Final Screening Assessment for Talc (Mg3H2(SiO3)4) (published on April 22, 2021). Public comments received on the draft screening assessment and risk management scope were considered and a summary was published.
- Risk Management Approach for Talc (Mg3H2(SiO3)4) (published on April 22, 2021 for a public comment period ending on June 23, 2021). Risk management is proposed.
- Associated notice: Canada Gazette, Part I: Vol. 155, No. 17 – April 24, 2021
On this page
- About this substance
- Key health and ecological effects (hazard)
- Human and ecological exposures
- Risk assessment outcomes
- Preventive actions and risk reduction
- Related resources
- The Government of Canada conducts risk assessments of substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999) to determine whether they present or may present a risk to human health or to the environment.
- The risks posed by a substance are determined by its hazardous properties (potential to cause adverse human health or ecological effects) and the amount or extent of exposure to people and the environment.
- When needed, the Government implements risk management measures under CEPA 1999 and other federal acts to help prevent or reduce potential harm.
- The ecological hazard and exposure potentials of this substance were classified using the Ecological Risk Classification of Inorganic Substances (ERC-I) Approach.
- The Government concluded that talc is harmful to human health due to potential exposures:
- from the use of certain loose powder self-care products containing talc (which include cosmetics, natural health products, and non-prescription drugs) which may cause critical lung effects when inhaled (examples include body powder, baby powder, face powder); and
- from the use of certain self-care products that contain talc, which is linked to ovarian cancer when used in the genital area (examples include body powder, baby powder, diaper and rash creams, genital antiperspirants and deodorants, body wipes, bath bombs or bubble bath products).
- Risk management actions are proposed to help reduce exposures to talc from certain self-care products.
- Oral exposure to talc from food intake, and oral and dermal exposure from self-care products (except in the genital area) were not a concern. Self-care products formulated as pressed powders were also not of concern.
- The Government also concluded that talc is not harmful to the environment at levels of exposure considered in the assessment.
About this substance
- The screening assessment focused on talc, which was assessed under the third phase of the Chemicals Management Plan (CMP).
- Talc is a naturally occurring mineral with deposits found in most provinces in Canada, as well as many other countries.
- According to information gathered by the Government, talc is used in Canada in adhesives and sealants; automotive, aircraft, and transportation applications; building and construction materials; ceramics; electrical and electronics; textiles; floor coverings; inks, toners, and colourants; lubricants and greases; oil and natural gas extraction applications; paints and coatings; paper and paper products, mixtures, and manufactured items; plastic and rubber materials; toys, playground equipment and sporting equipment; and in water treatment. It is also a permitted food additive in a limited number of foods in Canada and is used in self-care products.
- For the human health assessment, the majority of uses of talc in Canada were not identified as a concern. The concerns identified focused on inhalation and female perineal (genital) exposure to certain self-care products containing talc.
Key health and ecological effects (hazard)
- To help inform the health effects characterization in the screening assessment, international and national reports were considered, among other sources of information. This included assessments by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
- There were no critical health effects identified for oral or dermal routes of exposure.
- The critical effects identified for characterizing the risk to human health for talc were:
- non-cancer lung effects (for example, difficulty breathing and scarring of the lungs) through inhalation exposure; and
- a link between genital use of talc and ovarian cancer.
- The ecological hazard was characterized in the ERC-I Approach. A comparative approach using similar chemicals, called read-across, was used for assessing potential ecological effects.
Human and ecological exposures
- Canadians may be exposed to talc from the use of a variety of self-care products. There were no critical health effects identified for oral or dermal routes of exposure. As such, oral exposure to talc from food, as well as oral and dermal exposure from the use of self-care products (other than in the perineal region), were not of concern. Self-care products formulated as pressed powders (for example, face makeup) were not of concern for inhalation exposure.
- The assessment therefore focused on inhalation and perineal (genital) exposure to certain self-care products containing talc, specifically:
- Canadians may be exposed to talc through inhalation during the use of certain loose powder self-care products.
- Canadians may be exposed to talc through application of certain self-care products to the genital area.
- Ecological exposure was characterized in the ERC-I Approach, using information submitted in response to a CEPA section 71 survey and data from the Canada Border Services Agency.
Risk assessment outcomes
- According to the results of the screening assessment, talc may pose a risk to human health:
- from the use of certain loose powder self-care products containing talc (for example, body powder, baby powder, face powder) which may cause critical lung effects when inhaled. There was no risk to human health identified from talc from other products, such as dry hair shampoo or foot powder; and
- from the use of certain self-care products containing talc, which is linked to ovarian cancer when used in the genital area. Examples include body powder, baby powder, diaper and rash creams, genital antiperspirants and deodorants, body wipes, bath bombs or bubble bath products.
- Based on the outcome of the ERC-I Approach, talc was considered unlikely to be causing ecological harm.
Screening assessment conclusions
- The Government concluded that talc is harmful to human health, but not to the environment, at levels of exposure considered in the assessment.
- Talc meets the persistence but not the bioaccumulation criteria as set out in the Persistence and Bioaccumulation Regulations of CEPA 1999.
Preventive actions and risk reduction
- The proposed order adding talc to Schedule 1 of CEPA 1999, also called the List of Toxic Substances, was published for a 60-day public comment period ending on July 21, 2021. Adding a substance to the list does not restrict its use, manufacture or import. Rather, it enables the Government to take risk management actions under CEPA 1999.
- Publication of the risk management approach aims to inform stakeholders of risk management options and continue discussion about their development. To address human health concerns, the Government will consider the following actions:
- Measures to help reduce exposures to talc from certain cosmetics which may be inhaled or which may result in perineal exposure by modifying the existing entry on the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist. The Hotlist is used to communicate that certain substances may not be compliant with requirements of the Food and Drugs Act or the Cosmetic Regulations; and
- Measures to help reduce exposures to talc from certain natural health products and non-prescription drugs which may be inhaled or which may result in perineal exposure by modifying the existing entry(ies) of the Natural Health Products Ingredients Database and applicable monograph(s).
- Risk management actions may evolve through consideration of assessments and risk management actions published for other substances. This is to ensure effective, coordinated, and consistent risk management decision-making.
Where to find updates on risk management actions
- Updates on actions can be found on the timeline for talc. Up-to-date information on the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist and on the Natural Health Products Ingredients Database is available. Additional information on the risk management of substances addressed under the CMP is also available.
- Use the Substances Search tool to find substances that are referenced in certain legislative or regulatory instruments or on Government of Canada websites.
- Talc is found in products available to consumers. Canadians should follow any safety warnings and directions related to the product and dispose of products responsibly. Warning labels on some self-care products may include, but are not limited to, “keep out of reach of children”, “keep powder away from child’s face to avoid inhalation which can cause breathing problems” and “not intended for use on broken skin”.
- Visit Do it for a Healthy Home for information on chemical safety in and around the home, including on talc (for consumers). An infographic on talc is also available.
- The screening assessment focused on potential risks from exposure of the general population of Canada, rather than occupational exposure. Hazards related to chemicals used in the workplace are defined within the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). For information concerning workplace health and safety and what steps to take in the workplace, Canadians should consult their employer and/or the Occupational Health and Safety Regulator in their jurisdiction.
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