What is benzene in sunscreen?

JOHNSON & Johnson have recalled a host of sunscreen products due to a chemical that contains carcinogens.

The recall includes all can sizes and all levels of sun protection factor, or SPF.

What is benzene in sunscreen?

Benzene "is a chemical that is a colorless or light yellow liquid at room temperature. It has a sweet odor and is highly flammable," according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The chemical evaporates into the air very quickly and may sink into low-lying areas.

Benzene dissolves only slightly in water and will float on top of the water.

It is not an ingredient used in sunscreen, according to Johnson & Johnson.

The company is investigating how the chemical might have made its way into the batches.

Which Johnson & Johnson sunscreens are recalled?

The affected products, packaged in aerosol cans, are:

  • Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena CoolDry Sport aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena UltraSheer aerosol sunscreen

The company released a statement regarding the recall, saying: "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."

Johnson & Johnson urged customers to toss out these particular sunscreens and halt their use immediately.

What happens if you are exposed to benzene?

Exposure to high levels of benzene can cause drowsiness, headaches, irregular heartbeat, and unconsciousness.

Benzene causes long-term harmful effects on the bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, benzene can cause cancer, including leukemia.

Those exposed to benzene poisoning are urged to go to the hospital to receive immediate medical care.

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