Asbestos is everywhere. The dangerous substance has been declared a hazardous carcinogen in countries all over the world, but many products still contain asbestos, even in the United States.
Talcum powder is just one of the places that asbestos can be found. Talc is a mineral made primarily of magnesium, silicon, oxygen and hydrogen. In its natural form, talc can become contaminated with asbestos fibers from nearby underground deposits. Before asbestos was declared a carcinogen in the United States in the 1970s, talc used in cosmetic and food products risked containing dangerous asbestos.
Today, the mining of talc must be strictly regulated so not to contaminate cosmetic and food-grade talc with asbestos. It has been thought that all consumer talc products have been free of asbestos since the 1970s, but there are some companies that have marketed their talc products as "asbestos-free" that are currently facing charges of fraud.
Presently, "industrial" grade talc can still contain certain levels of asbestos. No level of asbestos exposure is safe, and it is not yet clear how exposure to talc alone is related to cancer development in humans. Even if cosmetics and food items contain "asbestos-free" talc, some individuals consider avoiding the substance and any fraudulent claims that might come along with it.