Health Canada announces talcum powder warning

Health Canada is warning consumers to avoid inhaling talcum powder or using the product on the female genital area.

The federal agency says exposure could cause potentially serious respiratory problems and possibly ovarian cancer.

The warnings came yesterday when Health Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada released a draft screening assessment of product containing talc.

The draft assessment focuses on the safety of the ingredient in self-care products such as cosmetics, baby and body powders and diaper and rash creams.

Inhaling talc, a naturally occurring mineral, can cause difficulty breathing, decreased lung function and pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring of the lungs.

Products containing talc have also been linked to ovarian cancer in some women, and the Canadian Cancer Society identifies its use on the female genitals as a possible risk factor.

The government is investigating the possibility of updating its cosmetic ingredient hotlist and possibly expanding warnings on product labels.

But before they make any decisions, they'll have to hold a 60-day consultation process to give members of the public, talc-product manufacturers and academics the chance to weigh in.