Sunscreens With Cancer-Containing Chemical Get Recalled

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Several sunscreens packaged with aerosol were found to contain benzene, which has been associated with risk of leukemia.

Johnson & Johnson is recalling five of its sunscreens after they were found to have low levels of benzene, a chemical that is associated with increased risk of leukemia.

All the products are “spray” sunscreens, packaged in aerosol cans. They are:

  • Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena CoolDry Sport aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena UltraSheer aerosol sunscreen

After company testing discovered benzene in the products, Johnson & Johnson said that it is advocating for consumers to stop using the sunscreens immediately and is also working to have them removed from stores nationwide.

“While benzene is not an ingredient in any of our sunscreen products, it was detected in some samples of the impacted aerosol sunscreen finished products. We are investigating the cause of this issue, which is limited to certain aerosol sunscreen products,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement.

Benzene is a colorless or light yellow chemical that can be made both naturally and from human activities, like the production of crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke. It can also be used to make plastics, resins, nylon synthetic fibers, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, drugs and pesticides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Johnson & Johnson said that according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s framework, the level of exposure to benzene from the sunscreens is not expected to have negative health implications. However, the New Jersey-based company is recalling the products “out of an abundance of caution.”

Sun Protection Is Still Important

Sun protection is still important to protect people from harmful UV rays that can lead to cancer.

“It is important that people everywhere continue to take appropriate sun protection measures, including the continued use of alternate sunscreen,” Johnson & Johnson said.

Additionally, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends taking a “multi-pronged approach” of skin protection, including sunscreen use, seeking shade and covering up with clothing and hats.

Next Steps If Exposed to Benzene-Containing Sunscreen

If individuals have the benzene-containing sunscreens listed above, they should stop using them and discard them immediately. They can contact the JJCI Consumer Care Center at 1-800-458-1673 with questions or to request a refund.

If they have any further concerns or experience problems related to the sunscreens, they should call their doctor. Illness or other side effects should also be reported to the Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch Adverse Event Report Program:

According to the CDC, symptoms of benzene exposure can include drowsiness, dizziness, rapid/irregular heartbeat, headaches, tremors, confusion, unconsciousness and – when exposed at very high levels – death.

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