Urgent recall for popular sunscreens over cancer-causing chemicals

·2-min read

Johnson & Johnson is voluntarily recalling five Neutrogena and Aveeno brand aerosol sunscreen products after detecting a cancer-causing chemical in some samples.

The New Jersey-based company said on Wednesday that consumers should stop using the products and discard them after internal testing identified low levels of benzene in some samples.

J&J is also notifying distributors and retailers to stop selling the products and arranging for their return "out of an abundance of caution".

Several Johnson and Johnson sunscreens have been recalled. Source: Getty Images
Several Johnson and Johnson sunscreens have been recalled. Source: Getty Images

Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen, a substance that could potentially cause cancer depending on the level and extent of exposure.

J&J said benzene was not an ingredient in its sunscreen products and it was investigating the cause of the contamination.

"Daily exposure to benzene in these aerosol sunscreen products at the levels detected in our testing would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences," the company said.

The recalled aerosol sunscreens are Neutrogena Beach Defense, Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport, Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer and Aveeno Protect + Refresh.

Consumers should contact their physician or healthcare provider if they have any concerns, questions or have experienced any problems related to using these products.

The recall is another blow for J&J, one of the world's largest producers of consumer health products. 

The recalled Johnson & Johnson sunscreen products had low levels of benzene, a chemical that can cause cancer with repeated exposure. Source: AP
The recalled Johnson & Johnson sunscreen products had low levels of benzene, a chemical that can cause cancer with repeated exposure. Source: AP

The company already faces billions of dollars of potential court losses and settlements from damages claims related to its baby powder, vaginal mesh implants and opioid painkillers.

J&J's Covid-19 vaccine rollout has also been hampered by production problems and the shot has been linked to two very rare side effects: Guillain-Barre syndrome and a potentially life threatening blood clotting condition.

US regulators have said the vaccine's benefits outweigh the risks.

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