Benzene found in sunscreens and deodorant sprays
Since Valisure found benzene in sunscreens, the FDA has been trying to figure out why the chemical appears in so many products. So far, the agency has no clear answers, as benzene is not an ingredient in the products.
“This contamination may be related to inactive ingredients such as carbomers (thickening agents), isobutane (a spray propellant), or other drug components made from hydrocarbons,” the FDA said in December. .
What is clear is that even if the amounts of benzene present in products are not high enough to pose immediate health threats, they do raise safety concerns, particularly if people are exposed to it for long periods of time. long periods or benzene from other sources.
The FDA states that benzene levels in consumer products must be below 2 parts per million (ppm). Frequent exposure to amounts greater than those that could increase the risk of leukaemia.
Some of the recalled products had benzene levels well above this amount. For example, Aveeno and Neutrogena sunscreens had benzene levels ranging from 11.2 to 23.6 ppm, five to 12 times the level recommended by the FDA.
Even at these levels, benzene is unlikely to cause serious and immediate health problems, says David Eastmond, a toxicologist and professor emeritus at the University of California, Riverside, who has studied benzene extensively.
But he and other health experts are concerned about the risk posed by repeated exposure, not least because people are also exposed to benzene from other sources, including cigarette smoke and gas pump fumes. . And it’s the combined exposure from multiple sources that poses the greatest health risks, he says. He stresses the importance of avoiding it when you can.