Aerosol products at higher risk for benzene, says scientist who spurred recalls

Unilever is recalling dry shampoo aerosol products offered nationwide as a result of they might comprise elevated ranges of benzene, a human carcinogen. The recall is the newest of half a dozen to this point this year, with the cancer-causing chemical exhibiting up in products together with deodorant, hand sanitizer and sunscreen.

People ought to take the benzene-related recalls critically, as they contain a much more harmful contaminant than most, in response to David Light, CEO of Valisure, an unbiased lab in New Haven, Connecticut, that alerted the Food and Drug Administration to its findings of benzene in sunscreen sprays final year. 

“Benzene is such a bad molecule — it’s at the very top of the FDA’s list of 70-some solvents not to use,” Light instructed CBS MoneyWatch, including that not like with some chemical compounds, “there’s no argument about whether or not it causes cancer in human beings.”

That’s to not say anybody who has used one of many recalled products will get most cancers, emphasised Light, a biotech entrepreneur and scientist. Still, “Benzene should not be confused with a lot of other areas of concern. This is a very problematic compound, and it shouldn’t be ignored,” he mentioned. 

“Even small amounts constitute big action,” added Light, citing the worldwide recall that ensued after benzene was present in bottles of Perrier mineral water greater than three many years in the past. 

Aerosol-type products are extra at risk of containing benzene than the overall sphere of shopper products, as are petroleum-derived products akin to gels, lotions, lotions and sunscreens, mentioned Light.

The chemical is just not an ingredient in any of the recalled products, however possible got here as the results of different petroleum products akin to butane, which if not refined correctly can find yourself containing different elements like benzene, Light defined.

“Unfortunately the more we looked, the more we found,” he mentioned of Valisure’s exams, which late final year petitioned the FDA for product recalls after it detected benzene in 54% of the 108 batches from 30 manufacturers of physique spray products.  

The newest recall consists of dry shampoo aerosol products made earlier than October 2021 from manufacturers Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI (Rockaholic and Bed Head), and TRESemmé, the company mentioned in a notice printed final week by the FDA. (See here for a whole checklist of recalled products and UPC codes.)

An inside probe by Unilever recognized the propellant because the supply, and the company labored with its propellant suppliers to deal with the difficulty, it said. 

People who bought the affected aerosol dry shampoo products ought to cease utilizing them and go to for reimbursement directions. 

Photo of some products recalled by Unilever.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

The recall is the second this year for Unilever involving a product probably containing benzene. The conglomerate sells roughly 400 products across the globe, from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to Hellmann’s mayonnaise.

Exposure to benzene can lead to cancers together with leukemia and blood most cancers of the blood marrow, in addition to life-threatening blood problems. Daily publicity to benzene within the recalled products at the degrees detected in testing “would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences,” Unilever mentioned.

Commonly discovered chemical

One of probably the most generally made chemical compounds within the U.S., benzene is current in gasoline and cigarette smoke, in response to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People are most usually uncovered by respiratory the chemical within the air, however they’ll additionally take in it into their our bodies by touching petroleum products, or by consuming or ingesting contaminated meals or drinks. 

Unilever in late March recalled two Suave 24-hour safety aerosol antiperspirants after an inside evaluate discovered barely elevated ranges of benzene in some samples. 

Four different firms have recalled products this year after discovering benzene in samples, and greater than half a dozen recalls got here for the identical purpose final year

In December, for occasion, Procter & Gamble recalled aerosol dry shampoo and conditioner spray products from six manufacturers offered nationwide after discovering benzene in a few of them. 

But benzene is just not the one cancer-causing chemical elevating concern for customers and makers of personal-care products. 

A lawsuit filed Friday towards L’Oreal alleges that chemical compounds within the French company’s hair straighteners brought about a lady’s uterine most cancers. The swimsuit over “phthalates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals” got here days after a study linking using such products to uterine most cancers.

L’Oreal didn’t reply to a request for remark.

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