Class Action Alleges Baby Powder Facilitates Cancer

Cody Porcoro

Written by
— Updated on January 6, 2022

An expert in performing electronic microscopy was needed in a lawsuit against a baby powder manufacturing company when patients alleged the product had caused them to develop cancer. Throughout the case, scientific literature was conflicted on whether asbestos-free talc, a popular component in many cosmetic products, could act as a carcinogen. This dissent prompted the use of a tissue analyst to discuss whether talc could be seen in the pelvic cavity of patients.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Are you able to identify particles in tissue?
  • 2. What methods or tests would you use to identify particles of a substance like talc?

Expert Witness Response E-053090

I have taught, presented, and written on electron microscopy and have worked hands-on with the electron microscope in academic, industrial and forensic matters; identifying foreign particles in tissue is well within my expertise. Depending on the particle morphology, light microscopy may be used to identify particles. Electron microscopy in conjunction with X-ray spectroscopy would be preferred, since it has the advantage of imaging at high magnification with several different imaging modes that can be used to increase the kind of elemental contrast needed to see talc particles in tissue. Additionally, X-ray spectroscopy can provide quantitative elemental analysis of the particles to confirm their chemical makeup.

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