Prelims level : Science & Technology Mains level : GS-II- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
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What to Study?

  • Johnson & Johnson is recalling one lot of its Johnson’s Baby Powder after tiny amounts of asbestos contamination were found in samples from a single bottle purchased online.
  • It was found that the contaminated bottle contained chrysotile fibers, a type of asbestos.

What is Talc?

  • Talc is a clay mineral which is found in underground deposits. It’s the softest mineral ever known and that makes it useful in a wide range of consumer and industrial products.
  • This mineral is used as a thickening agent and lubricant, is an ingredient in ceramics, paint and roofing material, and is also one of the main ingredients in many cosmetic products.
  • Talc in powdered form, often in combination with corn starch, is widely used as baby powder (Talcum Powder).
  • Asbestos is also found underground, and veins of it can often be found in talc deposits, leading to a risk of cross-contamination.

About Asbestos:

  • Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals composed of thin, needle-like fibers. They are commonly known by their colours, as blue asbestos, brown asbestos, white asbestos, and green asbestos.

Applications of Asbestos:

  • Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that can be pulled into a fluffy consistency. Asbestos fibers are soft and flexible yet resistant to heat, electricity and corrosion. These qualities make the mineral useful.
  • Pure asbestos is an effective insulator, and it can be used in cloth, paper, cement, plastic and other materials to make them stronger.

Health impacts of Asbestos:

  • Inspite of various applications of asbestos in strengthening and fireproofing of materials, it is banned in many of the countries.
  • It is because when someone inhales or ingests asbestos dust, the mineral fibers can become forever trapped in their body.
  • Over decades, trapped asbestos fibers can cause inflammation, scarring and eventually genetic damage to the body’s cells.
  • A rare and aggressive cancer called mesothelioma is almost exclusively caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos also causes other forms of cancer as well as progressive lung disease and asbestosis.
  • Microscopic asbestos fibers cannot be seen, smelled or tasted, and it is unsafe to sniff a substance suspected of being asbestos. To detect asbestos, a sample of questionable material must be sent to a lab for testing.
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