FATALITIES HAVE been reported following the aspiration of talcum powder in infants.1-3 The incidence of nonfatal illness from the inhalation of this dusting powder is unknown. Because of the ready availability of this substance and since the clinical manifestations from aspiration mimic those of acute infectious bronchiolitis, it is likely this etiology may sometimes be overlooked in milder cases.
Talc is hydrous magnesium silicate, and commercially, the mineral talc is usually mixed with other silicates such as serpentine, tremolite, anthophyllite, and other ingredients, predominantly carbonates. Talc is insoluble, chemically inert, and, in a fine state of subdivision, it is used topically as a "mechanical protective." It acts mainly by preventing friction and by absorbing moisture, but otherwise has no therapeutic effect.
Inhalation of talc dust may result in acute or chronic lung disease. Sudden massive inhalation produces acute respiratory distress of the bronchiolitis fibrosa obliterans type4 which is
HUGHES WT, KALMER T. Massive Talc Aspiration: Successful Treatment With Dexamethasone. Am J Dis Child. 1966;111(6):653–654. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1966.02090090125015
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: