An online pharmacy which independently screens the chemical composition of medications and consumer products, recently published the findings of testing done on 294 sunscreen and after-sun care products. Of the tested products, 78 contained a chemical called benzene, which is a well-established cause of cancer and other serious health risks in humans. The findings reported by the independent company further showed that benzene levels at or above the limit designated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were detected in 14 products manufactured by popular sunscreen brands Neutrogena, Fruit of the Earth, Sun Bum, and CVS Health.
In response to the May 2021 research findings, the company has called for the FDA to conduct thorough investigations into the manufacturing of sun care products, and to more closely analyze processes, sourcing, and ingredients. The company is firmly requesting a recall of the products which were found to contain unsafe levels of benzene. Furthermore, they are asking that the FDA provides better definitions for the limits for benzene contamination in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products, and enact more effective methods of notifying the public of potential dangers and alternate products.
What Is Benzene?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), benzene is a chemical formed through both natural processes and human activities, and can be found in such sources as volcanoes and cigarette smoke. While benzene can be found in everyday synthetic products like rubber, nylon, and dyes, it is harmful to the human body because it can prevent cells from functioning properly. In one example of its effects, benzene can compromise bone marrow, rendering it incapable of performing its vital function of producing red blood cells. Regulatory agencies including the CDC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the World Health Organization (WHO), and The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) have labeled benzene a human carcinogen.
Short and Long-Term Effects
You may come into contact with benzene through tobacco smoke, vehicle exhaust, or industrial fumes in the air, or through household products such as glue, detergent, or even soft drinks. At low levels, benzene exposure usually goes undetected. However, even slightly increased levels can cause mild or severe health complications. People who have been exposed to benzene, either by breathing or ingesting harmful amounts, may experience the following symptoms within minutes or hours, according to the CDC:
- Drowsiness or unconsciousness
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Stomach irritation (when ingested)
- Death (at very high levels)
The amount of benzene and length of time of exposure determine the severity of the effects of poisoning. Other factors such as age and health condition also play a role in the way benzene exposure can affect a person. Long-term exposure is defined by the CDC as a year or longer. A person who has experienced long-term benzene exposure is at risk of several life-threatening health complications, the most notable being blood and bone marrow-related cancers. The following is a list of some of the known effects of long-term benzene poisoning:
- Cancer (particularly blood and bone marrow cancers- leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma)
- Aplastic anemia
- Irregular menstrual periods
- Bleeding disorders
- Weakened immune system and risk of infection
- Decreased size in ovaries
- Low birth weight, delayed bone formation, and spina bifida in infants (found in animal testing)
Who Is Most Vulnerable to Benzene Poisoning?
There are some populations of people which may be more vulnerable to the deleterious effects of benzene. The following groups have a specified risk of damage due to exposure:
- Children. Studies have shown that benzene exposure can be particularly dangerous to children. One of the greatest concerns is the strong link between benzene exposure and the occurrence of childhood leukemia.
- Women. According to the CDC, women who breathed high levels of benzene for a period of months experienced effects including irregular menstrual periods and a decrease in the size of their ovaries.
- Pregnant Women and Developing Fetuses. While there has been no concrete evidence yet presented that benzene can affect a developing fetus in humans, studies on animals like mice have revealed a strong correlation between benzene exposure and infertility, fetal deformity, poor fetal development, or stillbirth.
- Elderly Adults. The elderly population is, in general, more susceptible to many health complications than a largely younger population. Some studies have specifically targeted the effects of benzene in elderly communities, pinpointing issues such as organ toxicity and insulin resistance which have been known to occur in relation to benzene exposure.
Reach Out to The Solomon Law Group with Questions
The Solomon Law Group takes an active stance in staying well-informed about new and emerging research, so we can be the best advocate for you. We understand that remaining at the forefront of local, national, and international information helps us better protect the rights of South Carolina residents. Good lawyers never stop learning, and we know that part of our job as legal advocates is educating ourselves on developing trends and data. In this way we can improve the skills necessary to give our clients the representation they deserve.
It is our mission to serve our community and protect our neighbors. If you are concerned that you may have been a victim of toxic benzene exposure through a sun-care product, we will work with you right here to help you file a Columbia, SC benzene sunscreen lawsuit. If you want to learn more about how to protect your rights, we invite you to get in touch with us today for an obligation-free consultation.