Johnson & Johnson Sunscreen Recall Announced Due to Cancer Concerns
Between the nice weather and relaxed Covid-19 restrictions, many of us have been taking the opportunity to get outside and enjoy some sun. And for those looking to protect their skin from the harmful effects of the sun, sunscreen is one of the most effective and available options. However, consumers who purchased several of the most popular sunscreen brands on the market were shocked to learn that they may have unknowingly been exposed to a dangerous cancer-causing chemical, as a Johnson & Johnson sunscreen recall was announced by the company.
The recall was announced by Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. In its statement, the company revealed that testing on many of its aerosol sunscreen products detected the presence of benzene, a known carcinogen.
The Johnson & Johnson sunscreen recall impacts all sizes and SPF levels of the following brands sold online and in stores:
- Aveeno Protect + Refresh
- Nutrogena Beach Defense
- Nutrogena CoolDry Sport
- Nutrogena Invisible Daily Defense
- Nutrogena UltraSheer
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is advising that consumers who purchased the tainted sunscreen products immediately stop using them.
What to Know about Benzene and Cancer Risks
As of this writing, Johnson & Johnson has not disclosed how the products became contaminated with benzene, nor the exact levels of benzene that were found. Though they were clear that it is not an intended ingredient in any of its sunscreen products, and the levels present in testing “would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences.”
Benzene is both a naturally occurring and man-made substance used in a variety of industries, including as a solvent in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical and other chemicals.
Health experts agree that benzene is a known carcinogen, and prolonged or excessive contact to high levels of the chemical can increase the risk of developing leukemia and other blood disorders. The most common method of exposure to benzene is primarily by breathing air that contains the chemical. Inhalation of cigarette smoke is among the most prevalent forms of benzene exposure, though breathing in fumes from adhesives, cleaning products, and paint strippers can also cause harm.
Symptoms of benzene exposure can include dizziness, irregular heartbeat, headaches, and tremors. Death can also result when exposed to very high levels.
For many consumers, the Johnson & Johnson sunscreen recall is yet another mark on the company’s once trusted reputation. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson in recent years for its role in serious harm against consumers ranging from opioids and surgical mesh implants to the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. It’s unclear how long the affected products will remain recalled, or if public trust in Johnson & Johnson sunscreen will be fully restored when they return to store shelves. For now, consumers looking to protect themselves from adverse effects of the sun should be aware of the sunscreen recall and consider alternatives to the affected products. A full list of the products included in the Johnson & Johnson sunscreen recall, including lot numbers and expiration dates, can be found here.