There have been several skincare products recalled in the past few months. Many of these recalls are very concerning because they involve popular brands of sunscreens and hand sanitizers. Lately, the issues have been related to benzene exposure.
Benzene is a carcinogenic chemical that has been shown to be highly absorbable in human skin. Since sanitizer and sunscreens are applied directly to the skin, health and product safety advocates are demanding immediate FDA action. Exposure to small amounts of benzene over time can cause exposed cells to stop functioning correctly and cause irregularities in both bone marrow and red blood cells, according to the CDC. Moreover, breathing in high levels of benzene has been linked to leukemia.
How did benzene get into hand sanitizer and sunscreen products?
According to a recent article, the cause of the benzene contamination appears to be in the manufacturing process. Benzene contamination also occurs on a “batch-to-batch basis,” making it difficult to single out one particular brand for a recall. Although the levels of benzene found in most products were low, several products were well “above the FDA limit of two parts per million” in certain batches of hand sanitizers and sunscreens. The two biggest concerns of medical professionals and safety advocates are how consistently these products are used and applying the products directly onto the skin. Many of these products are used on a daily basis, increasing cancer risks.
The FDA and private laboratories have increased product testing to identify products containing harmful chemical levels to battle the issue.
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