Talc (Magnesium Silicate)


  • Talc = Magnesium Silicate


  • Industrial Uses of Talc
    • Ceramic Industry
    • Paper Industry
    • Plastics Industry
    • Rubber Industry
    • Paint Industry
    • Cosmetic Industry

Clinical Manifestations

Pulmonary Manifestations

Talc Granulomatosis (Foreign Body Granulomatosis) (see Foreign Body Granulomatosis, [[Foreign Body Granulomatosis]])

  • Etiology: intravenous injection of talc, which is commonly used as a filler for drugs of abuse
    • Orally-Formulated Drugs of Abuse: talc or starch fillers are commonly used in the intravenous injection of orally-formulated drugs
    • Crack Cocaine (see Cocaine, [[Cocaine]]): talc is also commonly used to “cut” injectable crack cocaine
    • Heroin (see Heroin, [[Heroin]]): interestingly, foreign body granulomatosis occurs less commonly with heroin abuse, as heroin is typically mixed in soluble fillers (such as quinine, lactose, or maltose)
  • Physiologic Consequences of Injected Talc
    • Pulmonary Fibrosis and Advanced Emphysema: due to injected talc usually is taken up by interstitium in lungs
    • Pulmonary Vascular Inflammation and Secondary Thrombosis: due to embolized talc
  • Clinical Presentations

Talcum Powder Aspiration

  • Epidemiology: typically occurs in infants
  • Physiology: within hours of aspiration, can cause severe and potentially fatal pneumonitis
    • Note: other non-talcum powders can also case pulmonary toxicity by similar mechanisms
  • Clinical
  • Prevention: avoid use of talcum powder (particularly with infants)

Talc Pneumoconiosis (“Talcosis”)

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  • Epidemiology
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Ocular Manifestations

  • Talc Retinopathy
    • Epidemiology: may occur in intravenous drug abusers in association with foreign body granulomatosis
    • Clinical: talc emboli near macula within small vessels

Other Manifestations

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  • Talc Pneumoconiosis. JAMA. 1952;148(16):1418-1419. doi:10.1001/jama.1952.62930160006011b
  • Talc pneumoconiosis: a pathologic and mineralogic study. Hum Pathol. 1992 Dec;23(12):1344-54 [MEDLINE]
  • Pulmonary talcosis: imaging findings. Lung. 2010 Apr;188(2):165-71. doi: 10.1007/s00408-010-9230-y. Epub 2010 Feb 13 [MEDLINE]
  • Intravascular Talcosis due to Intravenous Drug Use Is an Underrecognized Cause of Pulmonary Hypertension. Pulm Med. 2012; 2012: 617531. doi: 10.1155/2012/617531 [MEDLINE]