Spray-on sunscreen contaminated with benzene

Benzene in Sunscreen

High levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, have been detected in several brands and batches of sunscreens and after-sun care products.  

Is there Benzene in Sunscreen?

Online pharmacy Valisure LLC tested nearly 300 sprays and lotions and found that 78 (or approximately 27%) tested positive for benzene. Some batches contained levels up to three times the conditionally restricted Food and Drug Administration concentration limit 2 parts per million (ppm). 

A total of 14 sun care product lots with benzene concentrations of 2 ppm or more are sold across four different popular brands—Neutrogena, Sun Bum, CVS Health, and Fruit of the Earth. A full list of the sun care products that tested positive for benzene and their ppm levels can be found here. (Scroll to page 12 for chart.) 

The presence of a toxic, cancer-causing chemical, such as benzene, in sunscreens and after-sun care products is concerning. Several studies have shown that the chemicals in sunscreen can be found in high levels in the bloodstream after they are applied to the skin.

Valisure is the same pharmacy that detected the probable carcinogen NDMA in Zantac and other ranitidine products, which led to sweeping recalls of the heartburn medication and the April 2, 2020 market withdrawal of all ranitidine products.

What is Being Done About Benzene in Sunscreen? 

On May 24, 2021, Valisure issued a petition to the FDA calling on the agency to recall batches of sunscreen and after-sun care products it identified as having levels of benzene that put human health at risk. The petition also calls on the FDA to take several steps to protect the public including: 

  • Conducting investigations into the manufacturing of sun care products 
  • Notifying the public about the presence of benzene in the products and recommending safer alternatives 
  • Developing guidance documents for the analysis of benzene in sunscreen products.  

“The presence of this known human carcinogen in sunscreen products widely recommended for the prevention of skin cancer and regularly used by adults and children in large volumes make this finding especially troubling,” Valisure said in the petition.  

Timeline of Benzene in Sunscreen

Late 2020 Valisure expands its testing

Valisure expands its testing capabilities to include analysis for benzene.

May 2021 Benzene detected – Sunscreen

Benzene found in sunscreens. (Source: Valisure)

July 14, 2021 Recall

Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreen products recalled. (Source: FDA)

Sept. 30, 2021 Recall

Coppertone sunscreen products recalled. (Source: FDA)

Oct. 8, 2021 Federal lawsuits consolidated in Florida

Federal benzene in sunscreen lawsuits were consolidated under U.S. District Judge Anuraag Singhal in Florida. (Source: Law360)

Feb. 8, 2022 Beasley Allen appointed as class counsel

Judge Singhal appointed Beasley Allen and four other firms as class counsel in the Johnson & Johnson Sunscreen Litigation. (Source: FLSD.uscourts.gov)

Mar. 28, 2022 Preliminary approval for class action settlement agreement

 Judge Singhal entered an order preliminarily approving the class action settlement agreement. (Source: FLSD.uscourts.gov)

Benzene in Sunscreen Lawyers

High levels of benzene—a known carcinogen—have been detected in several brands and batches of popular sunscreens and after-sun care products. Benzene is a colorless or light-yellow liquid chemical used in a variety of industrial and household products. But it is dangerous. Benzene exposure has been linked to cancer and other illnesses.

Our firm has the resources to represent clients throughout the country while never losing sight of the individual. If you or a loved one have regularly used sunscreen and been diagnosed with cancer such as leukemia or lymphoma, we can help.

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