(L-R) Mr Kingsley Ozegbe, a consultant, Patrick Chiekwe, Executive Director of FOCONE and Styve Obodekwe, during a briefing condemning continuous circulation and usage of talc-based products
…Want FG to withdraw talc-based products from sales
From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
A non governmental organization, Foundation of the Conservation of the Earth(FOCONE), has raised alarm over the continuous circulation of a dangerous mineral in powder and other cosmetics products in Nigerian markets, known as talc.
Speaking in Port Harcourt, Rivers State yesterday, a Consultant, Kingsley Ozegbe, who spoke for the group said a major component in powder and costmetics production is not harmful on its own, but is often contaminated by asbestos during mining.
Ozegbe explained that asbestos contains cancer causing particles is located closely to talc under the soil, which makes it subceptible to contamination during mining, thereby posing grave risks to humans when used.
“We wish to inform the public that some talc powder and cosmetics being sold in Nigerian markets contain asbestos. According to the WHO’s international agency for research on Cancer, talc that contain asbestos is classified as carcinogenic to human, they insisted that there is no safe level for asbestos.
“The International Agency for Research on Cancer(IARC), and the United States Geological Survey at different times held that asbestos are found close to talc deposits underground and sometimes s contaminates talc when it is mined, ” he said.
Also in a statement signed by the Executive Director of FOCONE, Patrick Chiekwe, the group called on the National Agency for Food, Drug/ Administration(NAFDAC), the Federal Government and the Consumer Protection Council(CPC), to begin a nationwide campaign on the dangers associated with contaminated talc powder, other talc based cosmetics products to help the populace desist from further use of the products.
The group claimed that the discovery led to the decision by an international company renowned for baby costmetics products, costmetics, to withdraw the sale of its products from the publics(markets) in the United States(US), and Canada in 2020 but regretted that the same products were shipped into Nigeria markets till date.
They called on the government to swing into action and order the J&J to also withdraw all of its products in Nigeria and stop the circulation, sale of same in the country and across the world,and equally replace talc metal with corn starch as it has done in the US and Canada.
“This discovery spurred series of serious public pressure for the withdrawal of talc products from the public in US and Canada. On may 19 2020, Johnson and Johnson(J&J announced that it will discontinue sale of its talc baby powder in US and Canada, after thousands of women who uses the products developed Ovarian cancer and filled law suits against the company.
“Now J&J has replaced its talc products with Cornstarch for those countries (US and Canada), but continued to sale off talc baby powder in Nigeria and other countries.”
The activists further alleged that as at March 2020, the company(J&J), had no less than 19, 400 letigations against it in respect of its talc products, while an Appeal court in the United States upheld the decision of the lower court(jury) that J&J’s talc was responsible for the Ovarian cancer suffered by 22 women and slammed it with 2.12 billion USD for damages, and in October, 2020 the company agreed to pay the sum of 100 million USD in settlement of over 1000 lawsuits in the United States.
According to the group, the Appeal concluded that, “J&J worked tirelessly to ensure that testing protocols would not detect asbestos in all talc samples and published articles, downplaying the safety hazards of talc.
“Large number of the lawsuits accused the company of hiding cancer risks associated with their talc products, based on this, several judges find the company billions of dollars as damages for poor handling of their products.” the statement by the activists claimed.
Again, the group claimed that women and babies, children are vulnerable to the risks of usage, alleging that the company knew about the health risks associated with its products by still maintained the sale in the market.
The group maintained that the product which is not safe in the US and Canada will also not be safe for humans in Nigeria and other parts of the world, however, they urged the government to stop companies from the continue sale of talc- based products, and costmetics in Nigeria and other parts of the world for health and safety reasons.