Talc powder is a household item, sold globally for use in personal hygiene and cosmetics. Some suspicions have been raised about the possibility its use promotes certain types of diseases, mainly cancers of the ovaries and lungs although this is not widely recognised as an established link.
Talc is used in many industries such as paper making, plastic, paint and coatings, rubber, food, electric cable, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, ceramics, etc. A coarse grayish-green high-talc rock is soapstone or steatite and has been used for stoves, sinks, electrical switchboards, crayons, soap, etc. It is often used for surfaces of lab counter tops and electrical switchboards because of its resistance to heat, electricity and acids. Talc finds use as a cosmetic (talcum powder), as a lubricant, and as a filler in paper manufacture.
Talc is used in baby powder, an astringent powder used for preventing rashes on the area covered by a diaper. It is also often used in basketball to keep a player's hands dry. Most tailor's chalk, or French chalk, is talc, as is the chalk often used for welding or metalworking.
Talc is also used as food additive or in pharmaceutical products as a glidant. In medicine talc is used as a pleurodesis agent to prevent recurrent pleural effusion or pneumothorax. In the European Union the additive number is E553b.
Talc is widely used in the ceramics industry in both bodies and glazes. In low-fire artware bodies it imparts whiteness and increases thermal expansion to resist crazing. In stonewares, small percentages of talc are used to flux the body and therefore improve strength and vitrification. It is a source of MgO flux in high temperature glazes (to control melting temperature). It is also employed as a matting agent in earthenware glazes and can be used to produce magnesia mattes at high temperatures.