Suncreen Torts

What is Benzene and Why Was it In Sunscreen?

Benzene is usually colorless or it can be a light-yellow liquid at room temperature. It is used as a solvent in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, as a starting material in the synthesis of several chemicals, and is found mostly in gasoline. Benzene occurs both naturally and is also manufactured.

Benzene is highly toxic to humans if swallowed, touched or inhaled. In May, an independent pharmaceutical testing company Valisure found 78 lots of sunscreens containing benzene. Benzene is a carcinogen that has been linked to blood cancer among other types of illnesses. Of the 78 batches with detectable levels, 51 percent of the products were found to have “significantly detected” levels of benzene. On July 14, Johnson and Johnson announced a voluntarily recalling of select products containing benzene Aveeno and Neutrogena are among those recalled.

Source: Valisure Report

Benzene-induced cancer in humans was first reported in the late 1920s. Why then are we learning that benzene is used in popular sunscreen products 100 years later? The question is one that needs to be answered. To prevent this from happening in the future, companies utilizing products containing benzene need to be held accountable. Did the companies know beforehand and withhold information from the public, or are the companies incompetent for not thoroughly testing their products before selling them? 

How did benzene get into sunscreen?

“It’s not an ingredient that is added to sunscreen, and likely, [benzene in sunscreen] occurs as a contaminant, a byproduct of manufacturing, or in the production of another raw material [used in sunscreen], like alcohol or aloe vera,” explains Laura Cohen, M.D., a board-certified dermatologic surgeon serving as President and CEO of CoLabs International. “Benzene contamination may occur in many alcohol spray applications, and in some alcohol or aloe vera-based lotions.”

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