How to avoid sunscreens and after-sun products contaminated with cancer-causing benzene

Benzene, which has been linked to blood cancers, has been reported in a large number of sunscreens and after-sun products that were independently tested by Valisure, LLC, a company that independently checks the chemical composition of medications and healthcare products. The products included sprays, gels, lotions, and creams. Benzene was found in 43 out of 224 (~19% of the) sunscreens and in 8 of 48 (~17% of the) after-sun products.

In other words, if you don’t know the product you are purchasing is benezene-free, you have a one in five chance of purchasing a product that may be dangerous to you or your family

FDA guidance suggests that no level of benzene is safe, and it is not permitted in these or other products.

A study by Health Canada’s Bureau of Chemical Hazards has shown that the application of sunscreen specifically increases the absorption rate of benzene through the skin.

My friends at ConsumerLab.com (subscription website) have posted a rather shocking expose on this topic:

Among sunscreens, the highest average concentrations of benzene (2 ppm to 6 ppm) were in four sprays from Neutrogena — although many other sprays and products from Neutrogena had less or no detectable benzene.

The next highest average concentrations of benzene (0.1 to 1 ppm) were in twelve products that were primarily sprays but included four lotions.

After-sun products with the highest concentrations of benzene consisted of four gels and one spray. (Also see ConsumerLab’s Review of Aloe Supplements, Gels and Drinks which includes tests of topical aloe products often used after sun exposure or for sunburn.

Note: Fruit of the Earth brand aloe vera gel, which is noted below as containing a high concentration of benzene, also failed to pass ConsumerLab’s tests for aloe vera.)

Active ingredients listed in contaminated products were also listed in products that were not contaminated — so you can’t tell from these listed ingredients which products contain benzene.

We don’t know the source of the benzene, but it could relate to how a particular ingredient was manufactured, where it was sourced, or how it moved through the supply chain.

Consequently, products having the same ingredients can be different with regard to benzene contamination.

More details about the results and testing are available in Valisure’s FDA Citizen Petition on Sunscreen or at ConsumerLab.com.

Clearly, if you’re going to use these products, you want to choose those in which no benzene was detected, which fortunately were the majority of the products.


© Copyright WLL, INC. 2021. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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