Popular spray-sunscreen recalled after traces of cancer-causing chemical found in samples

Banana Boat has recalled one of its spray sunscreens after the cancer-causing chemical benzene was detected during an internal review. Edgewell Personal Care Company, which manufactures the product, has recalled three batches of its Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 after trace levels of benzene were found in some samples during an internal review. Though this sunscreen product is not meant to contain benzene, it may have come from the propellant that sprays the product out of the can.

Benzene is a human carcinogen. Exposure can happen through inhalation, orally or through the skin, potentially leading to leukaemia, cancer of the bone marrow and blood disorders, the company said in a statement.

The recall is voluntary and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is aware of it, the company said in a statement.

Specific batches are affected by the recall, which does not apply to other batches of the product.

No other Banana Boat products are part of the recall.

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The products are packaged in aerosol cans and were distributed throughout the US to retailers and online. Retailers have been alerted to the recall.

Banana Boat said it will reimburse consumers who have purchased a recalled product.

Customers can identify impacted products by the lot numbers located on the bottom of the can. The recall includes lot numbers 20016AF, 20084BF and 21139AF.

The products have expiration dates of December 2022, February 2023 and April 2024.

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The company says no other products have been included in the recall and may continue to be safely used.

Edgewell has not been notified of adverse effects from the recalled sunscreen.

“Daily exposure to benzene in the recalled products would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences according to an independent health assessment using established exposure modeling guidelines,” Edgewell said in a statement.

It comes after Johnson & Johnson recalled lots of its Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen last summer after internal testing detected low levels of benzene in some products.

The company said at the time the recall was taken “out of an abundance of caution” as daily exposure to the trace amounts of benzene found in the products “would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences..”

Procter & Gamble Co. also issued a benzene-related recall in 2021 after traces of the product were found in its Old Spice and Secret antiperspirant sprays.

The manufacturer recalled 18 varieties of sprays altogether last November.

Similarly to the Banana Boat sunscreen, Procter & Gamble testing found the traces of benzene came from the propellant used to spray the product out of the can.

What exactly is benzene?

Benzene is a colourless, flammable liquid with a sweet odour. It evaporates quickly when exposed to air.

It is used mainly as a starting material in making other chemicals, including plastics, lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides.

Benzene is known to cause cancer, based on evidence from studies in both people and lab animals.

The link between benzene and cancer has largely focused on leukaemia and other cancers of blood cells.

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