Jul 14, 2021
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Johnson & Johnson is recalling five of its sunscreen products after low levels of benzene were found.
Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen has been recalled in all sizes and levels.
Four Neutrogena sunscreen products were recalled by Johnson & Johnson.
Johnson & Johnson is voluntarily recalling five of its sunscreen products after low levels of benzene, a chemical that can cause cancer with repeated exposure, were found in samples.
The company announced the recall Wednesday and advised consumers to stop using the products.
The affected products, which were sold in aerosol cans, are Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen, and four Neutrogena sunscreen versions: Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen, CoolDry Sport aerosol sunscreen, Invisible Daily Defense aerosol sunscreen and UltraSheer aerosol sunscreen.
The recall includes all can sizes and all levels of sun protection factor, or SPF, according to the notice posted on the Food & Drug Administration's website. The products were distributed nationwide through retailers.
The recall comes after a May report by Valisure, a Connecticut-based online pharmacy and laboratory, found dozens of popular sunscreen products have been contaminated with benzene.
Valisure tested and analyzed 294 unique batches from 69 different companies and found 78 sunscreen and after-sun care products contained the chemical.
The company’s citizen petition called on the FDA to recall 40 sunscreen and after-sun care products found to contain higher levels of benzene. The brands include Neutrogena, Sun Bum, CVS Health and Fruit of the Earth.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund Consumer Watchdog Teresa Murray said in a statement that the recall should have happened sooner.
“We’re a month and a half past the big Memorial Day beach weekend that unofficially kicks off summer," Murray said. "How many consumers nationwide have unknowingly been using sunscreen that could cause cancer?"
Johnson & Johnson investigating benzene in sunscreen
Benzene is a highly flammable, widely used chemical that's present throughout the environment. It can cause cancer with repeated exposure at high enough levels and damage the immune system and prevent cells from functioning properly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The chemical's effects vary by whether a person accidentally inhales or ingests it or gets it on skin and clothing. Symptoms range from dizziness and irregular heartbeat to convulsions and, at very high levels, death.
"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," Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. "We are investigating the cause of this issue, which is limited to certain aerosol sunscreen products."