Analysis of an Authentic Historical Italian Cosmetic Talc Sample – Further Evidence for the Lack of Cancer Risk

  •  Edward B. Ilgren    
  •  Carlo Sartorio    
  •  John Hoskins    


Italian talc from the Pinerolo Mines in North West Italy is known for its extreme purity. Several historical investigations of these mines have demonstrated very small amounts of tremolite in the host rock that occasionally found their way into the mined ore. However, more than sixty years of epidemiological studies of the Pinerolo miners and millers have failed to demonstrate any attendant cancer risk and show that this trace tremolite contamination is of no biological significance.

Claims made that the Pinerolo Italian cosmetic talc produced prior to 1975 were contaminated with asbestos, principally tremolite, have been difficult to refute given the lack of authentic historical samples of commercial products. We now describe the analytical findings of a recently discovered authentic historical sample.

Sample analyses of this material showed only a few non-asbestiform tremolite fibres - a finding discussed in the light of the historical (pre-1975) studies of this talc deposit: no serpentine (chrysotile) or amphibole fibres were detected.

The numerical concentration of tremolite fibres in the talc sample was 3.687 x 106 fibres/gram, corresponding to a mass concentration of 0.722 parts per million.

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