Most people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma have been exposed to asbestos in their work.
In recent years, however, there have been reports of compensation awards made in claims for mesothelioma in the United States in which it has been alleged that the disease was caused by the claimant using talcum powder.
Talc and asbestos are both naturally occurring minerals and are sometimes found close together in the ground. .In the American cases it has been argued that the talc used in the talcum powder became contaminated with asbestos when the talc was mined.
There have been several multi-million dollar awards against talcum powder manufacturers in the United States, although several of these have been overturned on appeal. In April 2018 a jury in New Jersey awarded a claimant $37 million for mesothelioma. The claimant said that he had never been exposed to asbestos in his work but that he had regularly used talcum powder throughout his life.
It may be possible for a UK resident who has mesothelioma to pursue a product liability claim for the disease in a jurisdiction in the United States. The claimant would have to produce strong evidence that he or she used a particular talcum powder product/products and that he or she regularly purchased and applied this product/these products in the United States. (Someone who regularly went on holiday to or visited relatives in the United States, probably before the 1980s, may be able to satisfy this test.) The lawyer in the United States would then have to produce evidence that the talcum powder/powders in question were contaminated with asbestos and that the manufacturer did not take reasonable steps to safeguard against this contamination or warn its customers of this risk of contamination.