January 10, 2019 — Internal memos and documents prove that Johnson & Johnson knew as early as 1971 that its baby powder and other talcum powder products were contaminated with asbestos.
The evidence was presented during an ongoing trial in Oakland, California, on behalf of a woman named Teresa E. Leavitt who is dying of mesothelioma.
Her lawyers accuse J&J of ignoring asbestos contamination in their talc products, failing to replace talc with less-toxic cornstarch, and failing to warn regulators or the general public about asbestos in talc.
James Webber, an environmental health scientist, took the stand on the 3rd day of trial yesterday. He testified that J&J knew about the contamination and should have known about the cancer risks of talc.
While J&J claims that there were only “trace” amounts of asbestos in talc, Webber said that studies showed that millions of asbestos fibers might be found per gram of talc. Other studies made similar findings.
Furthermore, Webber added that studies by other laboratories showed a “long history” of asbestos contamination in talc mines. Samples from the 1990s reveal that “they had been seeing it and not reporting it.”
The lawsuit is In RE: Leavitt v. Johnson & Johnson — Case No. RG17882401 in the Superior Court of the state of California (Alameda County).
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