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P&G shampoo recall is only the latest for benzene in spray products

Coppertone voluntarily recalls 5 sunscreens
Coppertone voluntarily recalls 5 sunscreens 00:19

Procter & Gamble is recalling aerosol dry shampoo and conditioner spray products from six brands sold nationwide after finding benzene in some of them. The recall is among more than half a dozen this year involving the cancer-causing chemical and various body sprays, including sunscreens

The latest recall involves products produced in the United States from P&G brands Aussie, Herbal Essences, Pantene and Waterless, the Cincinnati-based consumer goods conglomerate said Friday in a notice posted by the Food and Drug Administration. Previously discontinued aerosol dry shampoo products from its Hair Food and Old Spice brands were also mentioned and were part of a separate recall in November.

Exposure to benzene — classified as a human carcinogen — can result in cancers including leukemia and blood cancer of the bone marrow, as well as life-threatening blood disorders. "Daily exposure to benzene in the recalled products at the levels detected in our testing would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences," P&G stated. 

Widely used in manufacturing, benzene is present throughout the environment and can cause cancer with repeated exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Other prior recalls include five sunscreen products by Coppertone, found to contain benzene in late September, while Johnson & Johnson in July recalled five of its sunscreen products found to contain benzene. Another expanded recall involved hand sanitizer sprays found to contain benzene.

Odor-Eaters last month recalled certain foot sprays in aerosol cans due to benzene contamination, and Bayer in October recalled specific lots of Lotrimin and Tinactin foot deodorants for the same reason.

Traces of the chemical were also found in dozens of popular sunscreen and after-sun products in tests conducted by Valisure earlier in the summer. The online pharmacy and lab also found elevated levels of benzene in more than 20 hand sanitizers earlier in the year.

 One consumer advocacy group found the pattern alarming. 

"Tests for benzene should happen before, not after, products end up on store shelves and in the hands of consumers," Isabel Brown, consumer watchdog associate at U.S. PIRG, stated in a news release.

"These are products that people use every day, and the health risks increase with prolonged use. Whether it's an ingredient that the manufacturer adds or not, the fact is that a known carcinogen keeps showing up in aerosol products. This can't happen again," Brown added. 

The recalled P&G products were distributed to retailers nationwide and online. P&G brands will offer reimbursement to those who purchased the recalled products, which should be discarded, the company said. 

Images of current Pantene products in the market.   Pantene

Produced between January 2019 and June 2021, the recalled Pantene products are listed with their UPC codes here

Production codes can be found on the bottom of the cans. Pantene

Information on impacted Herbal Essences products and instructions for reimbursement can be found here, while images and information for recalled Aussie and Waterless products can be viewed here and here, respectively. 

Images of the current Waterless product in market.  Waterless

Further information about Hair Food and Old Spice is also available here and here.

Previously discontinued dry shampoo by Old Spice. Old Spice

Benzene is not an ingredient in any of P&G's products, but a review found unexpected levels of the carcinogen in the propellant that sprays the product from the can, the company said. 

The company began testing its aerosol products after recent reports indicated traces of benzene in some aerosol spray products, according to P&G. 

The vast majority of P&G products including liquid shampoos and liquid conditioners are not part of the recall. 

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