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Benzene is a light yellow and colorless chemical. It’s mainly used as a solvent in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries and is both natural and man-made. [1]

Benzene is also known to cause cancer in humans. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies benzene as a group 1 carcinogen. This means that there is strong evidence linking benzene to DNA damage that causes cancer in humans. The FDA also classifies benzene as a category 1, meaning it should not be used in drugs or drug products. [2]

Benzene in Sunscreen

“Benzene is known to cause cells to work incorrectly, such as damaging the immune system by changing levels of antibodies in the blood. Long-term benzene exposure has been linked to leukemia and conditions such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and chronic myelogenous leukemia.”[3]


On May 24, 2021, Valisure issued a petition to the FDA calling on the agency to recall batches of sunscreen and after-sun care products it identified as having levels of benzene that put human health at risk.

Citizen’s Petition

“On May 24, 2021, Valisure, an online pharmacy that conducts independent testing, filed a Citizen Petition with the FDA alerting them to the presence of dangerous levels of benzene in numerous sunscreens.”[4]

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) stated that those who are exposed to benzene should wear safety and protective equipment.

Additionally, Valisure discovered amounts of benzene that exceeded the amount of parts per million that would be considered safe or acceptable. At least “78 product batches of sunscreens and sun care products had detectable levels of benzene, 26 contained benzene in concentrations between 0.1 ppm and 2.0 ppm and 14 contained over 2 ppm.”


According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), exposure to benzene can occur through inhalation, absorption through the skin, ingestion, skin and/or eye contact.

Environmental Protection Agency

“Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services list benzene as a “known human carcinogen.” A carcinogen is a substance that can cause cancer or helps it grow in the body.”

Brands Involved 

The different name brands involved are [5]:

  • Aveeno
  • Babyganics
  • Banana Boat
  • CVS Health
  • EltaMD
  • Equate
  • Ethical Zinc
  • Fruit of the Earth
  • LaRoche-Posay
  • Live Better by CVS Health
  • Max Block
  • Neutrogena
  • Raw Elements
  • Sun Bum
  • TopCare Everyday
  • Walgreen’s

Causal Links to Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, “Rates of leukemia, particularly acute myeloid leukemia (AML), have been found to be higher in studies of workers exposed to high levels of benzene, such as those in the chemical, shoemaking, and oil refining industries.”

Human studies and animal lab tests have confirmed that benzene causes cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the link between benzene and leukemia and other blood cancers is especially strong.

Research has found a possible link between benzene and various types of cancer, including:

  • Leukemia
  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Related Links:


[1] Clarissa Vanner,

[2] Id.

[3] National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 179,

[4] Anapol Weiss,







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