According to a news report posted on nbcnews.com, one independent laboratory has discovered cancer-causing benzene in common consumer products such as sunscreens, hand sanitizers, sunscreen, antiperspirant sprays. Valisure made findings of benzene contamination in consumer products and submitted a citizen petition urging the FDA to take action.
One brand, Artnaturals, marketed their hand sanitizer products “as safe and plant-based.” The company’s brand name also emphasized that the company produced natural products. However, Artnaturals is one of the hundreds of brands that were tested and found to contain benzene. Benzene is a petroleum-based solvent that should not be in consumer products since it is carcinogenic.
According to Valisure’s CEO, “The toxicity of benzene has been known for over 120 years. It’s directly linked with causing leukemia in humans.”
One consumer submitted her hand sanitizer to Valisure for testing and the test results showed that it contained benzene levels of 13 parts per million which are significantly higher than the EPA’s benzene limits of 5 parts per billion in drinking water.
Valisure has found benzene in several different consumer products such as antifungal spray, antiperspirant sprays, and sunscreens. According to Valisure’s petition to the FDA, some specimens of Old Spice antiperspirant were found to contain benzene at 17 parts per million.
According to the news story, consumers are not aware of the extent of benzene contamination in consumer products. In the matter of contaminated hand sanitizers, governmental regulators and the industry have been sluggish to respond.
The FDA published an announcement that the agency has also found other toxic chemicals such as acetaldehyde and acetal in some hand sanitizers. Some companies that recalled their hand sanitizers although they continue to maintain that their hand sanitizers are not contaminated with benzene or other toxic chemicals.
Unfortunately, FDA regulators do not have the authority to recall over-the-counter-drug products such as hand sanitizers. However, the FDA can put pressure on companies to voluntarily recall their products by issuing public warnings. The FDA typically urges companies to investigate issues and then it is up to the company to issue a recall.
Valisure has found high levels of benzene in hand sanitizer products made by several companies. Valisure also discovered benzene in 78 batches of after-sun care and sunscreen products produced by major brands such as Aveeno, CVS Health, and Neutrogena. Bayer announced a recall of its antifungal sprays Lotrimin and Tinactin last month.
It’s not clear how benzene ended up in consumer products.
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