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Millions of people use sunscreen every day, especially in the warmer months.  Whether as a cream, lotion, or spray, sunscreen is a product the whole family uses, from the littlest children to the oldest of us. However, this common product has been found to be contaminated by a potentially cancer-causing chemical, according to the Valisure Report, which disclosed that high levels of the known human carcinogen benzene have been found in several Johnson & Johnson sunscreen products.

On July 14th, 2021, Johnson & Johnson voluntarily recalled all Neutrogena and Aveeno aerosol sunscreen products after their internal testing confirmed Valisure’s findings of benzene. Benzene is a known human carcinogen linked to leukemia. The independent chemical testing company analyzed 294 unique batches from 69 different companies, uncovering that 27% of samples contained detectable amounts of benzene. Some batches contained up to three times the restricted FDA concentration limit of benzene.

"There is not a safe level of benzene that can exist in sunscreen products," said Dr. Christopher Bunick, associate professor of dermatology at Yale University, in Valisure's press release. "Even benzene at 0.1 ppm (parts per million) in a sunscreen could expose people to excessively high nanogram amounts of benzene."

Benzene and cancer

Benzene is a natural component of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke, ranking in the top 20 chemicals used for the production of "lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides," as well as "plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers," according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Long-term and repeated exposure to benzene is associated explicitly with blood cancers such as leukemia. Workers occupationally exposed to benzene were five times more likely to develop cancer and ten times more prone to dying from leukemia than those not exposed. 

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) details “inhalation, skin absorption, ingestion, skin and/or eye contact” as exposure routes for the carcinogen.  The Johnson & Johnson sunscreen testing results are particularly concerning due to the fact that there have been multiple studies by FDA researchers showing that chemicals in sunscreen products are found in the blood at high levels after application to the skin. 

Benzene--a known danger

Benzene exposure, whether through inhalation or skin absorption, has been linked to life-threatening diseases, including:

  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Aplastic anemia

Some of these diseases don’t present with symptoms until several years after exposure to benzene. And often, people who are diagnosed with AML, MDS, or some other form of benzene cancer don’t realize that there may be a connection to past benzene exposure. 

The FDA recognizes the serious danger of benzene and listed it as a “Class 1 solvent”, the most serious label. Class 1 solvents “should not be employed in the manufacture of drug substances, excipients, and drug products because of their unacceptable toxicity.” 

Multiple Johnson & Johnson samples contained "significantly detectable benzene, and some batches contained up to 3.1 times the conditionally restricted limit," according to the citizen petition asking for action that Valisure filed with the US Food and Drug Administration.

How Meyers & Flowers can help

Meyers & Flowers is now working with those who have been diagnosed with cancer after using the following Johnson & Johnson sunscreens: 

  • Neutrogena Beach Defense
  • Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport
  • Neutrogena Invisible Daily
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer
  • Aveeno Protect + Refresh 
Meyers & Flowers Trial Attorneys

For more than two decades, Meyers Flowers’ team of product liability attorneys have gone up against major corporations to protect the rights of the public and bring justice to those recovering after an unexpected tragedy. As a practice that prides ourselves on the motto “Locally Grown. Nationally Known”, our team is committed to handling each case with the compassion and attention it deserves while providing big-name expertise and nationwide resources to take on manufacturing giants such as Johnson & Johnson successfully. Having won more than $6 billion for our clients, we know what it takes to win and help get you and your family back on their feet.

If you or a loved one have regularly used sunscreen and was later diagnosed with cancer such as leukemia or other blood disorders, contact us today to see how we can help.

Further Products that tested positive for benzene

Other brands will likely be recalling their products as well. Below is the comprehensive list, in more detail and beyond the above, of products that have tested positive of benzene:

  • Aveeno Lotion Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum
  • Banana Boat Spray Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen CSpray SPF 100
  • Banana Boat Spray UltraMist Deep Tanning Dry Oil Continuous Clear Spray SPF 4
  • Banana Boat Spray Ultra Sport Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 100
  • CVS Health Spray After-sunAloe Vera Soothing Spray
  • CVS Health Gel After-sun Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel
  • CVS Health Spray Sheer Mist Spray Broad Spectrum
  • EltaMD Spray UV Aero Broad-Spectrum Full-Body Sunscreen Spray, SPF 45
  • Equate Lotion Kids Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50
  • Fruit of the Earth Gel Aloe Vera Gel
  • Goodsense Lotion Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
  • Max Block Lotion Sport Sunscreen Lotion Water Resistance Blue 30 SPF
  • Neutrogena Spray Ultra Sheer Weightless Sunscreen Spray, SPF 100+
  • Neutrogena Spray Ultra Sheer Body Mist Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 45
  • Neutrogena Lotion Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Water Resistant Sunscreen SPF 70
  • Neutrogena Spray Beach Defense Oil-Free Body Sunscreen Spray - SPF 100
  • RawElements Lotion Eco Formula Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30
  • Sun Bum Spray After Sun Cool Down Aloe Vera Spray
  • Sun Bum Lotion Oxy Free Zinc Oxide Sunscreen Lotion - SPF 50
  • SunBurnt Gel Advanced After-Sun Gel
  • TopCare Everyday Lotion Ultimate Sheer Sunscreen Lotion SPF
  • Up & Up Gel Clear Aloe Vera Gel
  • Walgreens Gel After Sun Gel

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