An Abundance of Caution: J&J recalls 5 sun care products found to contain Benzene

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images \ (KenCanning)
© Getty Images \ (KenCanning)

Related tags: Sun care, Johnson & johnson, recall, Benzene

The multinational health care and consumer goods company issued a voluntary recall this week for 4 Neutrogena brand sunscreens and 1 Aveeno brand sunscreen.

“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,” ​explains J&J in a press release about the voluntary product recall. “We are investigating the cause of this issue, which is limited to certain aerosol sunscreen products.”

Valisure study found Benzene contamination in sunscreen and after sun products

Sun care came under scrutiny this past May when Valisure (a Connecticut-based pharma and analytics company that specializes in detecting variability and quality concerns in drug and OTC products) reported finding Benzene in more than 75 sun care products.

“Benzene is one of the most studied and concerning human carcinogens known to science,” ​wrote Valisure Founder and CEO David Light in a post about the findings on the company blog​.

Benzene’s “association with forming blood cancers in humans has been shown in numerous studies at trace levels of parts per million and below. The presence of this known human carcinogen in products widely recommended for the prevention of skin cancer and that are regularly used by adults and children is very troubling,” ​stated Light.

The Valisure study found Benzene in J&J sun care products: in Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (at < 0.1 ppm) and in 25 Neutrogena brand products (with levels as high as 6.2ppm).

It’s also worth noting that 27 Neutrogena and 1 Aveeno sun care product tested by Valisure had no Benzene contamination.

J&J recalls sun care containing Benzene

This week’s product recall from J&J comes after internal testing found the same contaminant. J&J noted that its finding show Benzene contamination in only aerosol products, suggesting that the manufacturing practice that leads to the contamination may be limited to aerosol filling facilities.

Based on the company’s internal testing, J&J has recalled these 5 sun care products:

  • NEUTROGENA Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen
  • NEUTROGENA Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen
  • NEUTROGENA Invisible Daily defense aerosol sunscreen
  • NEUTROGENA Ultra Sheer aerosol sunscreen
  • AVEENO Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen

“Based on exposure modeling and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) framework, daily exposure to benzene in these aerosol sunscreen products at the levels detected in our testing would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences. Out of an abundance of caution, we are recalling all lots of these specific aerosol sunscreen products,”​ explains J&J in the recall release.

But the company also takes care to point out that, “Sunscreen use is critical to public health. Melanoma incidences continue to increase worldwide, and the majority of cases are caused by excessive sun exposure. It is important that people everywhere continue to take appropriate sun protection measures, including the continued use of alternative sunscreen.”

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