Sunscreens and Exposure to Cancer-Causing Chemicals: What You Need to Know

Benzene Exposure 

Independent laboratory Valisure recently announced that it discovered the known carcinogen benzene in 78 sunscreens and after-sun products, including popular brands Neutrogena, Aveeno and Banana Boat, after testing nearly 300 products from 69 different companies.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists benzene as a carcinogen and benzene has been linked to various types of leukemia and other cancers of the blood cells. Drowsiness, tremors, confusion, dizziness, and a rapid or irregular heartbeat are all potential side effects of exposure to benzene, according to the American Cancer Society.

Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid and a component of gasoline. It is a solvent frequently used for rubber and waxes as well as in the extraction of oils from seeds and nuts and in the manufacturing of detergents and pharmaceuticals

Of the product samples Valisure tested, 27% contained benzene, and some contained up to three times the conditionally restricted FDA concentration limit of 2 parts per million, the company said. Valisure is asking for a recall of the products and is requesting that the Food and Drug Administration better define limits for benzene contamination in drug and cosmetic products. You can view the full list of sunscreens here, starting on page 12 of the FDA petition.

“Benzene is one of the most studied and concerning human carcinogens known to science,” said David Light, Valisure founder and CEO. “Its association with forming blood cancers in humans has been shown in numerous studies at trace levels of parts per million and below. The presence of this known human carcinogen in products widely recommended for the prevention of skin cancer and that are regularly used by adults and children is very troubling.”

Johnson & Johnson announced a voluntary recall on five of its aerosol sunscreen products sold under its Neutrogena and Aveeno brands:

  • NEUTROGENA® Beach Defense® aerosol sunscreen,
  • NEUTROGENA® Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen,
  • NEUTROGENA® Invisible Daily™ defense aerosol sunscreen,
  • NEUTROGENA® Ultra Sheer® aerosol sunscreen, and
  • AVEENO® Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen.

Coppertone followed with its own voluntary recall on Sept. 30, yanking the following products from store shelves:

  • CoppertonePure & Simple SPF 50
  • Coppertone Pure & Simple Kids SPF 50
  • Coppertone Pure & Simple Baby SPF 50
  • Coppertone Sport Mineral SPF 50
  • Coppertone, Travel-size Sport Spray SPF 50

If you have been using one of the recalled sunscreens, you should stop immediately. Consumers can contact Johnson & Johnson with questions or to request a refund by calling 1-800-458-1673. For Coppertone, consumers can contact 1-888-921-1537 or visit https://www.sunscreenrecall2021.com to request a product refund and for additional information.

If you notice symptoms, report them to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online.

“There is not a safe level of benzene that can exist in sunscreen products,” Dr. Christopher Bunick, associate professor of dermatology at Yale University, said in Valisure’s press release. “Even benzene at 0.1 ppm in a sunscreen could expose people to excessively high nanogram amounts of benzene.”

Experts caution that not all sunscreen products contain benzene and that uncontaminated, nonaerosol products are available, should continue to be used, and are important for protecting against potentially harmful solar radiation.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year in the United States than all the other cancers combined, and regular use of broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF of 15 can decrease your risk of skin cancer and skin precancers, The Washington Post reported.

How We Help Victims of Benzene Exposure 

If you have been injured or suffered an illness due to sunscreen-related benzene exposure, you can seek legal action against the manufacturer for compensation. Our Dallas, Texas, benzene law firm has battled corporate giants on behalf of individuals like you for 20 years, aggressively fighting to hold them responsible for dangerous chemicals and the personal injuries and cancers they cause. If you have suffered catastrophic injury caused by dangerous products, including benzene, we can help.

What are my chances?

That’s the first question everyone asks. The truth is it’s impossible to know. But we can tell you this. Waters Kraus Paul & Siegel has what it takes to fight against big corporate interests and win. That’s why we’ve taken more mesothelioma trials to verdict than any other firm. And that’s why we’ve recovered more than $1.3 billion for clients like you. Do you think you have a case? Contact us now to speak with an attorney.

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