Talc Dust Collection
Reducing the Risk of Talc Dust Exposure
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is used in countless consumer applications. School kids learn that talc is the softest mineral—and how it scores 1 on the Mohs hardness scale—and it is this quality that contributes to much of its usefulness. The weak bonds within talc crystals cause the material to crumble into a fine powder whose grains slide over each other with ease. Besides being an excellent dry lubricant, talc has found its way into many household products and industrial processes.
In the home, talc appears in cosmetics and even food. Talc makes cosmetics more silky and spreadable. It serves as an anti-caking agent in both food and pharmaceuticals. As “talcum powder,” it is a widely used personal care product known for its drying, astringent qualities. (Currently there is discussion in popular media about a possible link between talcum powder and cancer, but scientific evidence has yet to confirm a connection. This issue is not immediately relevant to industrial concerns over talc.)
In industrial processes, talc appears in the production of plastics, ceramics, paper, rubber and more. Talc lends whiteness to plastics and serves as a good filler. In ceramics, talc allows firing temperatures to be reduced and also gives ceramics better thermal expansion. Talc is used in paper manufacturing to reduce surface friction between sheets and improve how ink adheres to a page. In rubber, talc improves UV radiation resistance and improves molding ability.