Publications : 2017

Drechsel DA, Barlow CA, Bare JL, Jacobs NF, Henshaw JL. 2017. Historical evolution of regulatory standards for occupational exposures to industrial talc. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 91:251–267.


Talc has been used historically in a wide range of industrial applications and consumer products. The composition and purity of talc used for industrial purposes can vary greatly depending on the source and may contain asbestos minerals. The developing science associated with the health risks of asbestos had an effect on the talc industry throughout the 20th century. This review presents a detailed analysis of the evolution of regulatory standards impacting the use of industrial talc in the U.S. from the early 20th century through the 1990s. While it was recognized by the 1930s that airborne exposures to talc dust at high concentrations could cause lung disease, it was not until later that concerns were raised about the health risks associated with potential occupational exposures to asbestos from industrial talc. Regulatory agencies adopted occupational standards for industrial talc in the early 1970s, but the terminology used to define and characterize talc and other associated minerals varied between agencies. In addition, the complex and varying mineralogy of industrial talc led to inconsistent and imprecise interpretation of studies concerning health risk and occupational health standards among individual agencies.