A new study has discovered that many of the sanitizers that flooded into the market during the pandemic contain benzene. It’s a potent carcinogen that can be absorbed through the skin.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer puts benzene in its highest-risk category of carcinogens, on par with radioactive materials, asbestos, and formaldehyde.
Benzene exposure is strongly linked to leukemia. Some studies show it may also cause lymphoma and multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer.
Valisure, a testing lab based in New Haven, Conn., analyzed 260 bottles of hand sanitizer from 168 brands. It found that 17% of the samples had detectable levels of benzene.
“These findings are alarming and reveal a serious potential risk to public health,” said David Light, CEO of Valisure.
It isn’t clear how benzene got into the sanitizers. It may have been introduced during the manufacturing process when germ-killing alcohol is purified, Valisure said.
14 Hand Sanitizers Found to Contain Benzene
Benzene is such a powerful carcinogen, that the FDA normally doesn’t allow detectable levels of any amount in personal care products. But during the early days of the pandemic, there was a sanitizer shortage. So the FDA made an emergency exception. They set a temporary limit of 2 parts per million (ppm) of allowable benzene in sanitizers.
Scientists at Valisure and elsewhere believe that even that small amount is dangerous. “I was shocked that we were finding benzene at all,” Light said. “It might very well be the most well-known compound that is dangerous to humans.”
Fourteen sanitizers were found by the lab to contain more benzene than the 2 ppm limit:
- Artnaturals, 3.1-16.1 ppm
- Scentsational Soaps and Candles, 13.8 ppm
- Huangjisoo, 11.4 ppm
- True Wash, 6.2 ppm
- The Crème Shop, 4.6 ppm
- Star Wars Mandalorian, 3.8-3.9 ppm
- Body Prescriptions, 3.7 ppm
- Born Basic, 3.5 ppm
- Beauty Concepts, 3.2 ppm
- PureLogic, 2.9 ppm
- Miami Carry-On, 2.7 ppm
- Natural Wunderz, 2.6 ppm
- Clean-Protect-Sanitize, 2.2-2.4 ppm
- Hand Clean 100, 2.1 ppm
Valisure is calling on the FDA to immediately recall these products.
In the meantime, you should make sure you’re not using them. If you have any of these products in your home, you should discard them.
You should also know that the leading brand of hand sanitizer, Purell, had no detectable levels of benzene.
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