The Johnson and Johnson Internal Asbestos Memos
If one reads the internal company memos from the early 1970's, it is hard not to draw the conclusion decision makers at Johnson and Johnson were aware that Johnson's Baby Powder was contaminated with asbestos
Thursday, May 31, 2018 - Johnson's Baby Powder cancer trials center around internal company memos that discuss asbestos contamination in talc. Internal, handwritten company documents point to the potential for legal liability "down the road" should it become known that Johnson & Johnson's talc supplies are contaminated with asbestos. What exactly is in the memos that jurors have been seeing that has resulted in multi-million dollar awards being granted to plaintiffs that allege asbestos contamination in Johnson's Baby Powder caused their lung cancer?
Back in the early 1970's Johnson's scientists asked themselves the question, if Johnson's Baby Powder contains 1% asbestos, how much asbestos would a baby inhale during a typical baby powder application? The answer to the question, the scientists concluded, was that the baby would inhale less than the legal limit which at the time was applicable to asbestos miners. Lawyers for plaintiffs with mesothelioma have argued that if Johnson & Johnson's claim that their baby powder is "asbestos free" why would the asbestos calculation be necessary in the first place? The company had to have ascertained that Johnson's Baby Powder was contaminated with asbestos to even ask the question, let alone draw the conclusion that the degree of contamination was within the legal limit and not harmful. Since baby powder is used every day, and often several times per day after diaper changes to prevent chaffing and wetness, even the smallest trace amount of microscopic asbestos fibers could accumulate in the lungs and cause cancer later in life.
The Johnson & Johnson Asbestos Memos
Fairwarning.org has published the internal Johnson & Johnson memo from August 9, 1971 from company headquarters in New Brunswick, New Jersey, under the heading of Baby Powder-Talc, that reads, "It would seem more than appropriate that we upgrade the quality control on our talc and baby powder, particularly as to the potential asbestos content."
Another memo a couple of years later demonstrates the company's concern over the inadequacy of their then-current testing procedures, "occasionally, sub-trace quantities of tremolite or actinolite are identifiable and these might be classified as asbestos fiber."
In yet another indication of concern, Johnson's talc supplier urged the company to take greater measures to "provide the protection against what are currently considered to be materials presenting a severe health hazard and are potentially present in all talc ores in use at this time.''
Two Johnson Baby Powder asbestos lawsuits have been decided against the company since the memos have become introduced at trial. A New Jersey man claiming Johnson's Baby caused his mesothelioma was awarded $117 million and a California jury awarded a woman $21 million plus $4 million in punitive damages for her mesothelioma lung cancer.