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Definition of Talc

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Talc: A very soft, soapy-feeling mineral that is a silicate of magnesium, sometimes with small amounts of aluminum silicate.

Talc is used in making dusting powder (talcum powder), in cosmetic preparations, and as a filter aid in pharmacy.

The inhalation of talc can lead to a chronic lung disease called talcosis which is related to silicosis. It occurs in workers exposed to talc mixed with silicates.

Talcum powder often used to contain traces of asbestos (because talc and asbestos form under similar circumstances and are commonly found together in the earth). Since asbestos can cause cancer, it is now removed from talcum powder.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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