When most people think of talc, they probably envision talcum and baby powder. Since talc is very soft and easily carved, one might also think of sculptures in soapstone. In fact, these uses of talc are quite minor compared to its wide variety of applications. But that’s not all, Read along to get interesting insights!
Talc is naturally found as a hydrous silicate mineral which is made up of magnesium, silica, and water. Although talc found naturally is quite pure due to its crystal structures it can have some impurities such as aluminum, iron, manganese, and titanium. It is one of the softest mineral found. It has a Mohs hardness of 1, to get things into perspective diamond has a hardness of 10.This is because talc is made up of microscopic platelets and the bonds between these platelets are very weak which causes these platelets to slip over one another. This property causes talc to have a greasy and soft feel. The appearance of talc can be white, apple green, or brown, depending on its composition.
What are various uses of Talc?
– Pulp & Paper: The mineral is used in improving several paper qualities and in recycling processes.
– Plastics & Rubber: Talc is used as a functional filler, providing rigidity to the plastic Personal Care- We all know the use of talc as a baby and body powder.
– Ceramics- Talc is used to improve porosity, thermal shock, mechanical resistance, etc.
– Others- Talc is auto body putty, asphalt shingles, caulks, sealants, joint compounds, foam packaging, animal feed, pharmaceuticals, chewing gum, candy, gaskets, hoses, belts, flooring, etc.
Is talc carcinogenic?
As a powder talc absorbs moisture and reduces friction. This is why it has been widely used by everyone as a baby powder. Most of the concerns about talcum powder and cancer have been linked to:
· People having long-term exposure to natural talc fibers at work have an increased risk of lung cancer.
· Women applying talcum powder regularly in the genital area have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
On October 2017, a California judge passed a 400 million dollar verdict against Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit by multiple women who claimed that J&J didn’t warn their customers about the cancer risks of its talc-based products.
A report by a market research firm estimates a moderate growth rate for global talc market.
Talc is mostly mined using open pit method. China is the largest producer of talc and United States is second. Yellowstone mine is the largest producer of talc in the US. Recently, asbestos present in naturally occurring talc has raised health concerns. Talc as a mineral is used because of its softness, chemical inertness, and purity.
The main hurdles for talc market are; increasing health concerns and the option of better and safer substitutes have hindered the growth of the market.