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  [영국] Is there asbestos in your makeup? Why women with cancer are suing big beauty brands
  관리자   2024-06-18 2476
아래 내용은 The Guardian의 6월 10일자 기사입니다.

주로 여성이 사용하는 화장품에 탈크가 사용되지만 석면이 섞여 있어 건강에 큰 위협이 됨.

실제로 베이비파우더를 사용 후 난소암이나 복막중피종 진단된 환자들은 미국의 제조사 존슨앤존슨을 상대로 피해보상 소송이 진행되고 있으며 소송건 수는 현재 54,000건에 달한다고 함.

하지만, 아직 영국의 화장품 등에는 석면 포함된 탈크가 발견된 사례는 없지만, 외국의 화장품 브랜드 제품에도 관심을 기울여야 함.

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As tens of thousands of lawsuits related to Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder flood US courts, many women are coming forward claiming that talc-based makeup gave them asbestos-related mesothelioma. Why is talc still present in almost all cosmetics?

Mention asbestos and disease, and most people’s thoughts turn to old, unstable floor tiles or insulation in homes or offices, or jobs in shipbuilding or construction – the kind of heavy industries that employ men in hi-vis jackets and hard hats. One place we don’t tend to think of it is in the beauty industry; rarely do we consider nude eye-shadow palettes or peachy pink blushers as health hazards.

Yet scores of British women are taking leading cosmetic companies to court in the United States, claiming that they contracted mesothelioma – a particularly nasty, treatable, but incurable cancer of the lining of the lung, heart or stomach – through their use of beauty products.

The ingredient they hold responsible is talcum powder, which is ubiquitous in makeup. You’ll find it in bronzer, blusher, eye shadow, foundation, mascara, lipstick and even dry shampoo, because it does an excellent job in absorbing moisture and preventing caking. Talc is a mineral that is mined from underground clay deposits – but it can also often have veins of asbestos present in it.

Almost all of the big brands use talc in their cosmetics, and they reject any suggestion that they may be tainted. The Estée Lauder Companies group, which includes Clinique and Bobbi Brown as well as Estée Lauder itself, said: “We only use talc that is tested and certified as asbestos free. Additionally, all our ingredients undergo a comprehensive safety review and evaluation, and our products are safe for their intended use.”

Certainly, the majority of people who have been using these products for years haven’t developed mesothelioma, partly because asbestos isn’t distributed equally in talc (which makes it especially hard to test for), but also because we’ve been fortunate that asbestos fibres haven’t lodged in our pleura (which lines our lungs) or peritoneum (the membrane lining the abdomen).

Hannah Fletcher wasn’t so lucky. In 2016, she was working for British Airways in a high-flying communications job. She started feeling exceptionally tired and began suffering from stomach pains. She went to the doctor and was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos, and was told that she likely had a year to live. She was 42 and had two children, aged four and 10.

Fortunately, she has outlasted that prognosis. In the years since, Fletcher has had almost every treatment imaginable: in a 12-hour operation, her spleen, gall bladder and appendix were removed, along with her womb; she has had immunotherapy and chemotherapy; and recently had a clot on the lung. It wasn’t until every other potential source of exposure had been ruled out that her solicitor sent a tissue sample from her peritoneum for a biopsy. She came back with an extraordinary finding: it contained fibres of asbestos in talc.


The culprits were her mother’s loose face powder, makeup and talc (which Fletcher had played with as a child), and her own later use of foundation and eye shadow. With the help of her solicitor, Harminder Bains of Leigh Day, she took legal action in the US – partly because this is where most of the big cosmetic brands are based, but also because it’s difficult to claim compensation for mesothelioma in the UK unless it’s been caused by your employment.

She sued. “I wanted justice and to raise awareness,” she says. “Some of the things I’ve had to do as a mother, like write letters to my children before the operation because there was a high possibility that I wouldn’t survive. I’ve missed so many family occasions because I’ve just been too ill to attend, and I feel like my children’s childhood was stolen from them.”

Fletcher agreed to a substantial financial settlement out of court in May 2023 and her case has opened the door for dozens of other British women with mesothelioma to take legal action in the US against cosmetic companies. Some cases have settled, but many more are going through the courts. Fletcher is one of the few people prepared to talk publicly about her condition and case.

She can’t tell me what the settlement was, nor which companies she sued – those were the conditions of the nondisclosure agreements she was required to sign. But it wasn’t difficult to discover that they were Clinique, Estée Lauder and Avon, as there are court documents giving her leave to sue these companies that are in the public domain.

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