Learn about talc.

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About talc

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral found in deposits across Canada and in other countries. It has many uses in a range of products.

Talc can be found in:

  • self-care products, including:
    • cosmetics
    • natural health products
    • non-prescription drugs
  • food as a food additive
  • paint
  • paper
  • putties
  • plastics
  • ceramics

Safety of talc

Under Canada's Chemicals Management Plan, we review and manage the possible risks that chemical substances can pose to Canadians and the environment.  We completed the final chemical risk assessment for talc.

The final assessment for talc found two possible health concerns. Talc:

  • may be harmful to your lungs (difficulty breathing, scarring of the lungs) if you breathe in loose powder products, such as:
    • baby powder
    • body powder
    • loose face powder
  • may cause ovarian cancer when using products with talc in the genital area. These products include:
    • body wipes
    • baby powder
    • body powder
    • diaper and rash creams
    • bath bombs or bubble bath products
    • genital antiperspirants and deodorants

The final assessment found there are no health concerns from:

  • breathing in pressed-powder products, such as pressed powder makeup
  • dry shampoo or foot powder
  • contact with your skin, excluding the female genital area
  • exposure from food or ingesting products containing talc, such as natural health products, and non-prescription drugs

Talc also does not pose a health risk from products such as:

  • paint
  • paper
  • putties
  • plastics
  • ceramics

Talc is not harmful to the environment.

What we're doing

Since 2007, Health Canada has identified restrictions around the use of talc in powder-based cosmetics intended to be applied on infants and children, including the use of warning labels that state the following:

  • keep out of reach of children
  • keep powder away from children's face to avoid inhalation which can cause breathing problems

We are also proposing further action to lower exposure to talc from inhalation and genital exposures in products of concern by:

  • adding talc to the Toxic Substances List
    • this allows Canada to implement preventive or control actions for the life cycle of the substance, from the research and development stage through manufacture, use, storage, transport and disposal or recycling
  • changing the existing entries on Health Canada's Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist and Natural Health Product Ingredient Database:
    • this will provide information to manufacturers on the expanded restrictions on the use of talc in cosmetics, natural health products and non-prescription drugs that can be inhaled or used in the female genital area

What you can do

To minimize your exposure:

  • read product labels and follow all safety warnings and directions
    • labels of cosmetics, natural health products and non-prescription drugs must list talc if it's used in the product
  • avoid inhaling loose talc powder
  • avoid female genital exposure to talc
  • choose a talc-free alternative

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

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