Talc

Learn about talc and if it's safe.

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About talc

Talc is a naturally-occurring mineral that can be found across Canada and in other countries.

Talc has many uses, including use in:

  • self-care products
  • food
  • paint 
  • paper
  • plastics
  • ceramics
  • prescription drugs

Safety of talc

We have assessed the potential health and environmental risks of talc with a draft chemical risk assessment. This draft assessment focused mainly on the safety of talc in self-care products.

Self-care products include:

  • cosmetics
  • non-prescription drugs
  • natural health products

The draft assessment proposes the following 2 potential health concerns. Talc may:

  • be harmful to your lungs if you breathe in fine particles of talc from loose powder products, such as:
    • baby powder
    • body powder
    • face powder
    • foot powder
  • be a cause of ovarian cancer from using products containing talc in the genital area, such as:
    • body wipes
    • bath bombs
    • baby powder
    • body powder
    • diaper and rash creams
    • genital antiperspirants and deodorants

The draft assessment also proposes that there are no health concerns from:

  • breathing in pressed-powder products, such as eye shadows or blushes
  • contact with your skin, excluding the female genital area
  • ingesting products containing talc, such as prescription drugs

Talc is not a health risk in products, such as:

  • food
  • paint
  • paper
  • plastics
  • ceramics
  • pressed-powders
  • prescription drugs

Human health concerns with the use of talc

Breathing in products containing talc can lead to:

  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing
  • decreased lung function
  • scarring of the lung tissue

These effects may get worse over time.

Using products containing talc in the genital area may cause ovarian cancer.

Ongoing protective measures

Talc has been restricted since 2007 to protect infants. Some warning labels include: 

  • keep out of reach of children
  • not intended for use on broken skin
  • keep powder away from children’s face to avoid breathing it in

If the proposed conclusions for talc are confirmed in the final screening assessment, we will consider:

  • adding talc to the List of Toxic Substances
  • putting in place measures to prohibit or restrict the use of talc in:
    • products that can be breathed in or used near the female genital area, including:
      • some cosmetics
      • some non-prescription drugs
      • some natural health products

Minimize your exposure to talc

To minimize your exposure to products that contain talc you can:

  • read product labels and follow all safety warnings and directions
    • talc must be listed on the labels of cosmetics, natural health products and non-prescription drugs
  • avoid inhaling loose talc powder
  • avoid female genital exposure to talc
  • choose a talc-free alternative

If you are still concerned, speak to your doctor or health care provider.

If you are exposed to talc at work, talk to your employer and occupational health and safety (OHS) official about:

For more information

For industry and professionals

Contact us

For any additional enquiries, email: hc.hecsb-sed-dgo-dgsesc-dsm-bdg.sc@canada.ca

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