Benzene in Sunscreen Spray; Product Recalled

Dad spraying sunscreen on son which has benzene in sunscreen.
The company behind the production of Banana Boat scalp sunscreen -Edgewell Personal Care Co.- has voluntarily recalled their product after internal investigations showed detectable amounts of benzene in sunscreen, one of their products, namely Banana Boat Hair and Scalp Spray SPF 30. Dad spraying sunscreen on son which has benzene in sunscreen. The batches recalled from the Banana Boat sunscreen are lots 20016AF, 20084BF, and 21139AF. The company has announced that they did not find benzene in other batches of the Banana Boat sunscreen.  

Measures Taken for The Recall

Although Edgewell has not disclosed the exact number of cans that have been recalled, company executives urge retailers to take the product off of their shelves. They have also offered to reimburse customers already possessing the Banana Boat sunscreen in question.   So far, no product-related health issues have been reported. However, this is not the first time a company has found traces of benzene in sunscreen. In 2021, there was an incident with Johnson & Johnson recalling five of their sunscreens, including Aveeno and Neutrogena products in aerosol cans.  

Why Is Benzene Found in Consumer Products?

Benzene is a chemical compound typically found in crude oil and gasoline, and while not an ingredient in sunscreens, it constitutes an impurity in the isobutane propellant used to spray the sunscreen. This means that benzene is most likely a byproduct of the production process of another component used in the sunscreen. According to Laura Cohen, M.D., alcohol spray applications are more prone to benzene contamination.   The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has imposed a limit of two parts per million (2 ppm) in all pharmaceutical products (sunscreens included) to ensure that it does not become an active component.

Health Concerns Related to Benzene in sunscreen

  Elevated levels of benzene can occur after prolonged exposure, but benzene can impact your immediate health even at lower levels due mainly to the chemical’s reproductive toxicity. California’s Proposition 65, officially known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, protects the state’s water sources from becoming contaminated with cancer-inducing chemicals. Benzene is listed as a cancer-inducing chemical with reproductive toxicity.   Health officials are most concerned with benzene inhalation through cigarettes, chemical fumes, or gasoline odors. Although benzene has been repeatedly found in consumer products such as sunscreens, which can potentially be absorbed through the skin, medical research has not yet yielded any conclusive results.  

Benzene In Sunscreen

According to the WHO, benzene has been identified as a Class 1 Carcinogen. People with elevated benzene levels are more susceptible to dizziness, irregular heartbeat, headaches, tremors, confusion, and unconsciousness. Prolonged exposure to benzene affects the bloodstream and causes significant damage to bone marrow, which can lead to anemia. It can also affect fetus development in pregnant women or cause infertility in men. Benzene is also responsible for cancer in humans, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), namely leukemia.   As stated, medical research on the absorption of benzene through the skin has not been extensive enough to identify the exact risk threshold. However, the primary concern is about the subsequent accumulation due to prolonged exposure. If these sunscreens had not been recalled for containing benzene, consumers loyal to that product would continue to absorb benzene through their skin.   Analyzing the risks of benzene contamination in sunscreens does not imply that sunscreen should be avoided. The U.S. Skin Cancer Foundation has reported that more than 90% of all skin cancers are attributed to the sun, and failure to use sunscreen can lead to severe health concerns.  

Legal Action for Victims

Although benzene is not added purposefully to the products, the companies’ recklessness can potentially harm consumers. Product recall is the last step that can be taken to keep consumers out of harm’s way, but when that time comes, it may be too late.   Our legal team can assist you in taking action and protecting yourself and your loved ones when federal guidelines simply do not suffice. Some of your options include:
  • Liability Claims such as Failure to Warn and Manufacturing Defect: Companies have an absolute duty to warn customers about known risks. For instance, manufacturers cannot bury warnings for benzene exposure on a long list of other potential hazards; the company must prioritize this danger and display it prominently for shoppers to make informed purchasing decisions.
  • Public Nuisance: This legal theory is utilized when a hazard affects several people at once.
  You may have a claim for meaningful compensation if you have suffered injuries from sunscreen-related benzene exposure, then you have an iron-clad case in your hands. Our legal team can assist you in claiming compensation, but your contribution is vital since it urges companies to put safety first. Contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC for a free consultation with an experienced NY personal injury attorney starting today.