A company that tests medicines called Test Valisure recently said that 78 lots of sunscreens and sun care products had benzene. Benzene is a known carcinogen linked to blood cancer and other diseases. Out of the 78 lots that had detectable levels of benzene, 40 had levels that were “significantly detected.”
Neutrogena said in response that it remembers that it chose to spray sunscreen “out of much attention” on July 14. Some of the recalled aerosol sunscreens were Beach Defense, Cool Dry Sport, Invisible Daily Defense, and Ultra Sheer. Neutrogena says that if you own these items, you should get rid of them and contact the company to get your money back.
A Valisuresure petition filed with the Food and Drug Administration on May 24 says that batches of benzene products are being recalled. Benzene is used to make plastics and pesticides and is also found in crude oil and cigarette smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, benzene has been linked to cancer in humans when exposed to high chemical levels for a year or more (CDC).
In a second report by the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services, thermal exposure to benzene was linked to leukemia, a cancer of the blood-forming organs, anemia, a lack of red blood cells, severe bleeding, and shrinking ovaries.
As reported by FDA, Edgewell Personal Care Company is now voluntarily recalling three batches of Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 from consumers nationwide. The first recall, announced on July 29, 2022, now includes one more batch.
A review found that small amounts of benzene were in some product samples. Even though benzene is not in any Banana Boat product, the review found that it was in the propellant that makes the product spray out of the can.
Importantly, this recall does not include any other batches of Hair & Scalp (before or after these batch codes) or any other Banana Boat products, so people can continue to use them safely and as intended.
According to the FDA, no benzene is safe in any product labeled as a Class 1 solvent. This is why the results of the Valisure study are concerning. But the agency doesn’t give conditional use approval for benzene at two parts per million if “use is inevitable in making a pharmaceutical product with a significant therapeutic advance.” But sun creams don’t need benzene to be made. There were as few as two parts per million (ppm) of benzene in 26 of the tested sunscreen lots, and the FDA recommended as much as 14 times the amount in 14.
In a press release from Valisure, Dr. Christopher Bunick, an associate professor of dermatology at Yale University, said, “There is no safe level of benzene that could be in sunscreen lotions.” “Even 0.1 parts per million of benzene in a sunscreen could give people too many nanograms of benzene.”
Benzene is a known pollutant in the oil business, Light adds, and many petroleum compounds make their way into cosmetics, lotions, and creams.
“In this situation, it appears to be a manufacturing contamination problem, not an inherent problem with sunscreen”, Light adds. “I think it’s an important message to express that person should keep using sunscreen.”
In total, 294 batches of solar items from 69 different companies were tested. The following brands created sunscreen products (sprays, lotions, gels, etc.) that contain lot numbers Valisure urges the FDA to recall: Neutrogena, Sun Bum, CVS Health, Fruit of the Earth, Raw Elements, SunBurnt, Good sense, Banana Boat, TopCare Everyday and EltaMD.
Some of these products include:
- Neutrogena Weightless ultra-clear sun spray, SPF 70 and SPF 100+
- The Neutrogena Beach Defense Oil-free SPF 100 Sun Body Spray
- Fruit of the Aloe Vera Terra Gel\sBanana Boat Kids Max Protect & Play C-Spray
- Sunscreen, SPF 100
- Aerosol spray with broad range UVA/B protection from EltaMD, with SPF 45.
- Raw Elements Eco Formula Sun Bum Refreshing Gel, SPF 30
- Good sense Sun Lotion with SPF 30 by CVS Health Aloe Vera After-Sun Spray
Not everything from these brands can be found to have benzene in it. In Valisure’s FDA petition, tables 2 and 3 can be used to determine if you own sunscreen made by any of the brands listed above and what the batch number is. If you want to throw something away, you should follow the US Environmental Protection Agency’s rules on how to get rid of dangerous waste. Even if your favorite sunscreen isn’t on the list, you should still get one because sun protection is essential.
It’s important to keep using sunscreen, and Valisure’s claim that some sun care products have been tainted doesn’t change the fact that sunscreen protects you from sunburn, skin cancer, and early skin aging. Because of this, the FDA says that sunblock is medicine and, as such, is subject to the same rules as other prescription drugs.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) representatives said the government is investigating the issue. “Any safety concerns reported by consumers, including those related to the use of sunscreen, are taken very seriously,” they said. “For now, we will keep an eye on the market for sunscreens and the efforts of manufacturers to make sure that Americans can get their hands on safe sun lotions.”
In a statement, the agency reminds importers and distributors that they are responsible for the quality of their products. The agency also tells producers to test their ingredients to ensure they meet the requirements and are free of dangerous contamination.
Value is testing more sun care products and is happy to accept donations of sun creams and other sun care items from the public. Follow the company’s instructions to send in your sunscreen if you want to have it tested.
Since Valisure only had so much time and money to do his first test, the FDA will probably remind him to get more of what he needs. “This is a problem for many different companies and brands,” says Light.
“The fact that this is a major problem is really what we’re trying to say,” he said. This problem affects a lot more than just the 40 lots that are currently for sale.
The information in this article is only meant to be educational and informative. It should not be taken as medical advice. If you have questions about your health or a health goal, you should always talk to a doctor or another trained doctor.
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