Various countries have banned the production and marketing of Johnson & Johnson's baby powder because of the presence of asbestos, a carcinogen. However, Bangladesh's regulatory body has not yet taken any action regarding the use of this product in the country.
As a result, concerns have been raised that users of these products may be exposed to health risks.
The issue was raised at a press conference titled "The Rise of Asbestos Cancer Concerns with Johnson & Johnson Talc-Based Baby Powder" organised by the Environment and Social Development Organisation (Esdo) on Saturday morning.
At the press briefing it was said that the production and sale of Johnson & Johnson's baby powder has been banned in the United States and Canada due to the presence of carcinogenic substance asbestos.
Although India has not banned the product it has put an embargo on its production at two factories. Further, in Sri Lanka, imports of the product have been banned.
However, the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI), as the regulatory body, has not yet been able to test the powder.
Esdo general secretary Shahriar Hossain said Johnson & Johnson withdrew its business from developed countries under pressure but continued their business in developing countries like Bangladesh.
He said, "Now is the time to test not only Johnson's baby powder but also the powders produced in the country. We have to see how safe the products are."
BSTI deputy director (chemistry) Jahora Shikder said, "Due to limited manpower and labs, it has not been possible to test the product yet. However, work is underway to formulate standards so that local powder producers can come under regulations.
"If the test system can be improved, BSTI will start monitoring the imports of powder," he added.
Former chairman of BSTI's Chemical Division Prof Dr Abul Hashem said, "The regulatory body needs to look into this matter. Importers should declare in the powder whether the product contains asbestos or not."
Speakers present also said there is an opportunity to test this ingredient of the powder in the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission. BSTI can also do the test jointly if it wants. It should also be checked whether the local powders like Tibet and Millat contain such ingredients.