Sunscreens recalled due to benzene contamination

On Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson announced that it is now recalling two of its most popular aerosol-based sunscreen products – Aveeno and Neutrogena spray.

The reason for this is that samples of both products were found to be contaminated with benzene, which is a known carcinogen. 

Johnson and Johnson said, “Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen, a substance that could potentially cause cancer depending on the level and extent of exposure.” 

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) says that benzene can cause cancer with long-term exposure, which is defined as frequent use for a year or more. 

During the summer months, sunscreen is an essential product for consumers as it protects the skin from both UVA and UVB rays, which play a key role in skin cancer and can cause sunburn and permanent skin damage. 

However, internal tests carried out by the company found “low levels” of benzene in many of its products, despite this not being a listed ingredient in any of its sunscreens. 

According to a statement on Johnson & Johnson’s website, the products affected by this are: 

  • NEUTROGENA® Beach Defense® aerosol sunscreen,
  • NEUTROGENA® Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen,
  • NEUTROGENA® Invisible Daily™ defense aerosol sunscreen,
  • NEUTROGENA® Ultra Sheer® aerosol sunscreen, and
  • AVEENO® Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen.

It added, “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.”

All SPF (sun protection factor) levels and sizes are impacted by the recall. Consumers are now being advised to stop using these products straight away and dispose of them. Additionally, retailers have been told to stop selling them going forward. 

The company said “use of these products would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences” but that it voluntarily decided to recall them “out of an abundance of caution.” The FDA is currently investigating the cause of the contamination. 

Johnson & Johnson said consumers with questions or refund requests can call its customer care center.


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