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Determination of Asbestos in Talcum powder by X- Ray Diffraction

XRD in Cosmetics Testing

Asbestos is a naturally occurring silicate mineral which finds innumerable applications in construction and process industries. However, exposure to environments with high concentrations of asbestos can present occupational hazards. Among the risks established due to inhalation are lung diseases including lung cancer and Mesothelioma which is rare cancer which affects the lining of the lungs and chest wall. It is a common occurrence in workers in mining and process industries who are exposed to asbestos-containing environments over years together.


Cosmetics can also pose carcinogenic hazards if not formulated with the appropriate ingredients. Talcum powder is one cosmetic ingredient which has been used for centuries. Its primary source is soapstone which is hydrated Magnesium stearate having chemical formula   Mg3Si4O10 (OH)2   with other mineral carbonates and silicates present in minor amounts.

Talcum powders can also contain asbestos which is a known carcinogen. Due to its low concentration, its presence does not pose the serious risk due to inhalation but using it in cosmetics directly on the skin can cause cancer over years of regular use.

Due to this risk number of regulatory and standard-setting bodies have made it mandatory to test for the presence of Asbestos in talcum powder.

Pharmacopoeial methods for estimation of traces of asbestos in talcum powder are have been prescribed based on popular techniques like –

  • Infrared Spectroscopy
  • Optical Microscopy
  • X-ray diffraction analysis

X-ray diffraction

analysis has been included in both USP and BP 2018 editions for determination of asbestos in talcum powders.

The Bureau of Indian Standards draft Ref PCD 19(12910)C dated 27th July  2018 of IS:1462 titled –Talc for Cosmetic Industry Specification has also included X-ray diffraction which offers ease of sample preparation, rapid analysis and a potential scope for future applications. Once the draft is finalized and approved X-Ray diffraction will prove to be beneficial in this important area of application.

Rigaku Model Multi-Flex 600 is being used as a workhorse in Arbro for analysis of pharmaceuticals, foods, and cosmetics. The system affords convenient analysis of samples for asbestos in talcum powder.

Please feel free to contact us for getting your samples tested for asbestos in talcum powder

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