Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Report on ‘toxic’ talc worries IndiaIOCR


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Talc

Mains level:  Cancer and its preventive measures


  • The debate over whether talcum powder poses serious health risks is in the spotlight again as its perineal use is possibly carcinogenic to humans.

Risks posed by Talcum Powder

  1. A risk assessment on talc published by Health Canada, states that talcum powder is harmful to the lungs when inhaled during breathing and could possibly cause ovarian cancer when used by women in the genital area.
  2. Breathing in products containing talc can lead to coughing, difficulty in breathing, decreased lung function, scarring of the lung tissue.
  3. Its contact with the skin (excluding the female genital area) and mouth is, however, not a health concern.
  4. The draft assessment would be confirmed in a final assessment that would entail Canada adding talc to a list of toxic substances if the proposed conclusions are confirmed.
  5. At that point in time it would also decide on the measures it would take to prohibit or restrict the use of the clay mineral, which finds wide use including in cosmetics, paints, ceramics.

Talcum powder in India

  1. In India, talcum powder is among the most widely known talc-based self-care products.
  2. Most Indians use talcum powder to get rid of sweat and the odour that it generates.
  3. But talcum powder clogs the pores, which are supposed to remain open. This is the main cause of local infections like folliculitis, boils, skin eruptions.
  4. From fighting perspiration and odour, to helping lend the user a ‘fairer’ skin tone, a large number of Indian consumers rely on talcum powder and the market is estimated to be worth about ₹700 crore.
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