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

Examples of self-care products containing talc include:

  • body powder
  • baby powder
  • face powder
  • foot powder
  • body wipes
  • bath bombs
  • diaper and rash creams
  • genital antiperspirants and deodorants

The draft assessment proposes that:

  • breathing in loose talc powder can be harmful to your lungs
  • using products containing talc in the genital area is a possible cause of ovarian cancer
  • contact with your skin (excluding the female genital area) and mouth is not a health concern

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
  • measures to prohibit or restrict the use of talc in some cosmetics, natural health products and non-prescription drugs that can be breathed in or used near the female genital area

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

We published the draft risk assessment and risk management scope on December 8, 2018. You are invited to comment on these publications during the 60-day public comment period which ends on February 6, 2019. For information on how to provide comments during this period, visit: http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p1/2018/2018-12-08/html/notice-avis-eng.html#nl8

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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