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How Safe Are Powders?

A Closer Look at the Safety of Talc, Cornstarch and Arrowroot Powders

Any powder — whether it’s cornstarch, flour, or chalk dust — poses the risk of inhalation as it spreads through the air.

Talcum powder, in particular, is no longer used by many for a variety of reasons among them: for one thing, in the past talcum powder contained asbestos, a known carcinogen (modern talc used in commercial applications does not contain asbestos); and second, a host of lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson allege that their baby powder contributed to ovarian cancer cases (at least two of these have found Johnson & Johnson negligent in not alerting their customers to the dangers of using talcum powder). 

Because of the risks, both perceived and real, of using talcum powder (especially near the genitals), many companies who manufacture baby powder have chosen to use cornstarch in its place. However, there is some question of the ultimate safety of cornstarch as well. The most noteworthy studies on cornstarch to date concern the cornstarch powder used inside latex gloves, and results suggest that inhaling large amounts can cause damage and scarring to the lungs (see Powdered Surgical Gloves: Is It Time for a Change? and Lung accumulations of eosinophil granulocytes after exposure to cornstarch glove powder).

Sweet Cheeks Baby Bum PowderFor our baby powder, we have chosen to use a combination of arrowroot powder, tapioca and kaolin clay because we have found them to be the most safe alternatives to talc or cornstarch. Arrowroot offers the benefit of being absorbent, a quality our customers are looking for in a bum powder; while tapioca gives the powder a lovely, silky feeling.

As mentioned above, inhaling a large amount of any powder can be a concern. While there is no evidence of any damage to be caused by arrowroot, tapioca or kaolin clay powders, we recommend that customers use the following cautions when applying our Sweet Cheeks Baby Bum Powder (TM):

  1. Use sparingly and near the skin to avoid creating a large cloud of dust.
  2. Use away from baby’s face.
  3. Store out of reach of small children.

We use the safest possible ingredients in our products and you can rest assured that using our Sweet Cheeks Baby Bum Powder (TM) is a safe, natural way to keep your baby’s bum dry. With any powder product, we recommend checking the ingredients and using prudent application habits to ensure your baby’s safety and comfort.