J&J Recalls Some Sunscreens Due to Benzene Traces. Why Is It A Problem?
Johnson & Johnson is recalling five of its sunscreen products after benzene, a cancer-causing chemical was detected in some of the samples, according to reports.
The affected products are:
-Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen
-4 Neutrogena sunscreen versions: Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen, CoolDry Sport aerosol sunscreen, Invisible Daily Defense aerosol sunscreen and UltraSheer aerosol sunscreen.
The company said that consumers should stop using the products immediately and that it’s working to get all lots of the five products removed from store shelves.
This comes after a report in May this year said dozens of popular sunscreen products were contaminated with benzene.
What Is Benzine? Why Is It a Concern?
Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen, a substance that could potentially cause cancer depending on the level and extent of exposure.
Benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Benzene is formed from natural processes, such as volcanoes and forest fires, but most exposure to benzene results from human activities.
J&J said that benzene is not an ingredient in its sunscreen products, but is is investigating how the chemical got into them.
However, daily exposure to benzene in these aerosol sunscreen products at the levels detected would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences, the company added.
How bad is Benzene?
Benzene's effects differ based on whether a person accidentally inhales, ingests or is exposed via skin and clothing.
Exposure to benzene liquid or vapor can irritate the skin, eyes, and throat. Skin exposure to benzene can result in redness and blisters.
According to the CDC, people who breathe in high levels of benzene may develop the following signs and symptoms within minutes to several hours:
Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Death (at very high levels)
Consuming foods or fluids contaminated with high levels of benzene can cause vomiting, stomach irritation, dizziness, rapid heart rate, among other things.
What Are the Long-Term Effects?
The long-term exposure, meaning exposure of a year or more, to the chemical harms causes harmful effects on the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia.
It can also cause excessive bleeding and can affect the immune system, increasing the chance for infection.
There is also some evidence that it might harm reproductive organs, and cause irregular menstrual periods and shrinkage of ovaries.
Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene in the air can cause leukemia, cancer of the blood-forming organs, according to the The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
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