As an attorney at Waters Kraus & Paul, Sam Iola has been recognized for his leading work in asbestos litigation. Recently, Iola and his client Corrin Ortillo were featured in the HBO documentary series Not So Pretty. Ortillo developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure from the makeup she used. The first episode of the series focused on the dangers talcum powder poses to innocent users, like Ortillo. You can watch the full series streaming on HBO. We spoke with Iola to learn more about the threat talc poses and Ortillo’s case.
How knowledgeable were make-up companies that use talc of the dangers that talc could pose for their users?
Many of these companies knew since the 1970s that talc contaminated with asbestos was dangerous. For the other companies that claim they didn’t know, there was widespread available evidence in many forms that talc could be contaminated with asbestos and that asbestos causes cancer. The presence of asbestos in talc and the dangers of asbestos are well known throughout the scientific and medical community.
How can we prevent talc being used in make-up and beauty products?
Vote for politicians that will strengthen the FDA. Use your voice and purchasing power as a consumer to let these companies know that you will not tolerate something as dangerous as talc in products that you let into your home.
Are any talc-based products safe from asbestos?
There is always a risk that talc will be contaminated with asbestos.
With such low-levels of asbestos occurring in talc, why is it so dangerous?
There is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Even a single day of exposure to asbestos can increase the risk of cancer decades later.
How likely is a full asbestos ban coming from the current EPA? Would that end the use of talc in makeup?
The EPA is asking for a full ban on asbestos as we speak. Hopefully they are successful. I am optimistic that talc containing asbestos will be included in the EPA’s final rulemaking.
How common are lawsuits against make-up manufacturers over talc and asbestos exposure? What’s the current status of this practice area litigation?
Unfortunately, many folks with mesothelioma and ovarian cancer have been left with no other choice but to seek justice by filing lawsuits against the companies that harmed them. The number of lawsuits have increased as the link between talc and cancer has become better publicized.
What’s the current status of Corrin Otillo’s lawsuit?
Corrin is still seeking justice for her mesothelioma from the companies that caused her harm.
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