The Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (CCF) has ordered DKSH Cambodia to stop distribution of its baby powder products made from talc, pending the verification results from third-party laboratories after suspected contamination with asbestos was discovered.

Asbestos is a natural mineral with a variety of industrial uses that has long been heavily restricted in its applications – and sometimes banned outright – in numerous countries around the world due to its carcinogenic properties and its link to the lung cancer mesothelioma, which can be caused by breathing in small fibres or particles of the material, according to the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training.

The ministry also noted that asbestos is permitted in some items in Cambodia such as cement, fibro-cement, ceiling cement, plaster, brake pads, clutch pads, insulation for heating and cooling systems, soundproofing, machinery, rubber pipes and other building materials.

However, crucially, all of the above examples are objects that exist in a solid non-particulate form or are wrapped or under a coating, rather than ground into a powder to be applied to human skin, which presents an acute possibility of danger to those exposed who may inhale it.

The announcement of the suspension came after CCF met with DKSH representatives virtually on August 22 and presented the results of the analysis of its baby and kid powder products, which are supposed to be made from talc only but are suspected of having asbestos in them.

CCF ordered DKSH to temporarily stop the distribution of all baby powder products and wait for the results of the analysis from third-party laboratories, which may be released soon.

“The results of the laboratory department showed that there were banned substances in DKSH baby powder products. CCF is taking further research measures according to the technical specifications, the details of which will be released later after receiving specific results,” it said.

CCF director-general Phan Oun told The Post on August 23 that after taking samples and conducting tests on some baby powders purportedly made from talc at their laboratory, the results showed the presence of asbestos on the analysed samples.

Due to the lab results, CCF has introduced a number of immediate measures, such as requiring the company to suspend the import and distribution of all of its baby powder products that have been found to contain asbestos and to recall its baby powder products from the markets and retailers before reporting back to CCF on the amount of products it has collected.

“The company has two weeks to take samples for analysis at a third-party laboratory with international capacity and recognition. Asbestos is not allowed to be present in cosmetic products. The presence of this substance can be very dangerous to human health, especially by causing cancer,” he emphasised.

DKSH Cambodia could not be reached for comment on August 23.