The Government of Canada conducts risk assessments of substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) to determine whether they present or may present a risk to human health or to the environment. A final risk assessment was recently completed for talc.

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in a number of self-care products, including cosmetics, non-prescription drugs and natural health products (NHPs). The final assessment identified the following:

  1. It may cause ovarian cancer when present in products intended for use in the genital area such as wipes, baby powder, diaper and rash creams, bath bombs, and genital antiperspirants or deodorants;
  2. It is potentially harmful to your lungs if you breathe in loose powder products such as body, baby and face powders;
  3. It does not present any health concerns if used in pressed powder products, dry shampoos, foot powders, products that come into contact with skin excluding the genital area and non-prescription products or NHPs intended to be ingested;
  4. It is not harmful to the environment.

Talc is currently listed on the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist and is restricted in cosmetic products intended to be used on children. Given the results of the risk assessment, Health Canada is proposing further action to lower talc exposure from products that could be inhaled or used in products intended for the genital area. The proposed actions include:

  • Adding talc to the Toxic Substances List in Schedule 1 of the CEPA – this would not restrict its use, manufacture or import, but rather enable the Government to take risk management actions under CEPA
  • Changing existing entries on the Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist and NHP Ingredient Database to include measures to reduce exposure to talc from products which may be inhaled or result in perineal exposure

Industry and other interested stakeholders are invited to participate in an electronic consultation on the proposed Risk Management Approach until Jun. 23, 2021.

If you have any questions or concerns or would like further clarification on the implications of the risk assessment and risk management approach, please feel free to contact us.