Deodorants Recalled Over High Levels of Carcinogenic Benzene

Deodorant Recall Benzene

Under pressure from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a holding company finally agreed to voluntarily take some tainted cosmetic products off the shelves.

The HRB Brand-produced spray-on antiperspirant and deodorant products all have expiration dates prior to August 2023.

Government tests revealed disturbingly high levels of benzene fumes in the chemical propellant that powers these sprays.

Thus far, no adverse health events have been reported. But benzene-related illnesses often occur slowly over time. So, the full effect may not be known for years or even decades.

To see a complete list of recalled products in the United States and Canada, please visit

Benzene in Consumer Products

These fumes are extremely common and extremely dangerous particles, even at relatively low levels.

Benzene is part of the manufacturing process in many cases. Examples include some products which might be in your closet right now, such as rubbers, dyes, detergents, lubricants, drugs, and pesticides.

Finally, benzene is part of nature. Crude oil contains raw benzene and erupting volcanoes and raging forest fires release benzene fumes.

Like most toxic fumes, benzene can be inhaled or absorbed directly through the skin. Also like most other toxic particles, benzene alters cell chemistry. The body cannot process benzene fumes.

So, once people inhale them, they stay in the body perpetually. As benzene particles accumulate, they can cause:

  • Anemia: Benzene slows the production of red blood cells in bone marrow. Anemia, and the excessive bleeding which often accompanies it, is not particularly serious among healthy adults. But it is potentially life-threatening for children, older adults, and people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Immune Deficiency: Benzene also lowers white blood cell count, which reduces the body’s ability to fight viral and other infections. In the coronavirus era, we all need all the natural immunity we can muster.
  • Cancer: Anemia and immune deficiency could be just the beginning. As benzene damage continues, it could cause leukemia (blood cancer). Airborne fumes, the most common source of benzene exposure, are the greatest risk.
  • Reproductive Issues: Some women who breathed high levels of benzene for many months had irregular menstrual periods and a decrease in the size of their ovaries. The effects of benzene on a developing fetus in a pregnant woman, or fertility in a man, are unknown.

Benzene poisoning symptoms include confusion, tremors, headaches, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), dizziness, and drowsiness.

Legal Options for Victims

Companies like HRB Brands do not maliciously add benzene to their consumer products. However, they do often recklessly, or even intentionally, poison people with these fumes.

The FDA can only involuntarily recall products as a last resort. By the time that happens, millions of people have already been exposed to the toxin or other complained-of dangerous substance.

If the government fails to take action, a New York personal injury attorney can step in and protect your family. Several possible legal remedies are available, including:

  • Failure to Warn: Companies have a duty to warn customers about known risks. Hazards like benzene exposure are so serious that companies cannot bury an exposure warning on a long list of risks. The warning must be proportional to the threat.
  • Public Nuisance: Attorneys often use this legal theory when a hazard affects many people at once. The monumental tobacco settlement in the early 2000s was a public nuisance case. This theory is often effective, but these claims have a lot of moving parts.
  • Manufacturing Defect: Use of cheap chemical propellants, the underlying issue in the deodorant recall, is one of the most common manufacturing defects. Quite simply, expensive chemical propellants in deodorants, aerosol sprays, airbags, and other consumer products are stable and safe. Cheap propellants are unstable and unsafe.

Failure to warn and manufacturing defect claims are usually strict liability claims.

Victim/plaintiffs need not prove negligence or fault. They must only prove that the dangerous product caused their injuries.

Substantial compensation is usually available in defective product claims. Damages must be high not only to adequately compensate victims, but also to deter future misconduct and encourage companies to put safety first.

When it comes to dangerous products, safety is no accident. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in New York, contact Napoli Shkolnik PLLC.