Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

New Tests Find No Asbestos in Baby Powder Brands

A woman uses a baby powder in Phnom Penh, August 24, 2022. CamboJA/ Panha Chhorpoan
A woman uses a baby powder in Phnom Penh, August 24, 2022. CamboJA/ Panha Chhorpoan

The Cambodian government is allowing imports of 12 brands of baby powder to resume after temporarily suspending them when they were found to contain traces of asbestos.

The Consumer Protection Competition and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (CCF) announced on Monday that the products were being allowed back onto the shelves after tests in Australia and the US found them to be free of the mineral carcinogen that can be extremely harmful to human health.

“That means both modern labs from the US and Australia got the same results; no Asbestos,” said Phan Oun, Director General of the Consumer Protection Competition and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (CCF).

In late August Cambodia found the asbestos traces in three types of Johnson’s baby powder, two types of Johnson’s blossoms baby powder, D-nee kids baby powder, D-nee newborn baby powder, Pureen baby powder, Laffair Be Love, Kodomo baby powder, Bhaesaj Cool Powder, and Babi mild Natural ‘N Mild.

But one consumer, Koch Srey Soung, a mother of a 2-year-old daughter, told CamboJA she was still worried about using the products, despite the findings of the international labs.

“I am afraid my daughter could get cancer. So, when I heard imports were being suspended, I immediately stopped using it.  Even though they now say it’s fine, I am not going to start using it again because I don’t trust it,” she said.

Morm Rithy, president of the Cambodian Tourism and Services Workers Federation, told CamboJA that it was good the CCF had sent samples for testing in Australia, which has the capability to do so properly.

 “We can be confident that it is accurate,” he said, adding however that consumer confidence might still be shaken. 

 Johnson & Johnson has faced thousands of lawsuits internationally with plaintiffs alleging their cancers were linked to asbestos found in baby powder. Talc is often found nearby asbestos, and trace amounts of asbestos are sometimes mined alongside the consumer product. In 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised consumers to stop using affected Johnson’s baby powder products and a year later the company announced it would no longer sell talcum powder in the US. Earlier this month, the company announced it would stop international sales too in 2023.

Cambodia had conducted its own research into the brands after receiving information from the US FDA.