person holding white plastic pump bottle

An online pharmacy, Valisure, raised alarm on a carcinogen found in hand sanitizers sold during the coronavirus pandemic. The pharmacy, Valisure, tested 260 hand sanitizer products for toxic chemicals and found high levels of benzene in nearly 44 products sold in the US. According to the 1Source database, Benzene is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and prohibited by the European Commission for use in cosmetic products. Benzene can harm individuals through dermal absorption or inhalation.

Hazards (UN GHS):

yellow hibiscus in clear glass vase

1. May be fatal if swallowed and enters airways (H304)

2. Causes skin irritation (H315)

3. Causes serious eye irritation (H319)

4. May cause genetic defects (H340)

5. May cause cancer (H350)

6. Causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure (H372)

7. Toxic to aquatic life (H401)

8. Toxic to aquatic life with long lasting effects (H411)

red and white UNKs restaurant

Products entered the market by demand due to a nationwide shortage of hand sanitizers. To meet the high demand for hand sanitizer during Covid-19 public health emergency, the FDA allowed an ” interim limit of 2 parts per million (ppm) for benzene in liquid hand sanitizers. Before June 2020, FDA banned benzene in the manufacture of any stage of drug products due to its toxicity. Despite the relaxation, Valisure reported that out of 260 hand sanitizer products tested, 17% contained benzene, with the highest level of benzene detected at 16.1ppm, over eight times the interim limit.

Some of the brands containing carcinogens include Artnaturals, which ironically describes itself as born from a “desire to free beauty from high prices, toxic chemicals”. Star Wars Baby Yoda themed bottle was caught in crossfires. New entrants which appeared to plug the market after household brands such as Purell and Suave sold out were noted to contain Benzene. Tainted sanitizers can be found for sale at Amazon and Target. Out of the 44 hand sanitizer products contaminated with Benzene, 2% are manufactured in Mexico, 50% in China, and 34% in the United States.

List of tainted hand sanitizers:

1. artnaturals9. beauty concepts
2. Scentsational Soaps & Candles Inc.10. PureLogic
3. huangjisoo11. Miami Carry On
4. TrueWash12. Natural Wunderz
5. The Creme Shop13. clean-protect-sanitize
6. Star Wars Mandalorian14. Puretize
7. Body Prescriptions15. Hand Clean 100
8. Born Basic

Besides that, Valisure also detected unacceptably high levels of methanol, and a acetaldehyde, defined by the WHO and IARC as ” possibly carcinogenic to humans” . The FDA stated that companies manufacturing hand sanitizers should not ” add other active or inactive ingredients”, for example to enhance the smell or taste. However, out of the 44 batches of hand sanitizers containing benzene, 20 of their product labels indicate the additional ingredients which fail to adhere to FDA guidelines. Enhancing the taste and smell is hazardous, as it may increase the risk of making product more appealing to be ingested by children.

In the letter, Valisure requested that all contaminated batches of hand sanitizer be recalled by the FDA and that they conduct an investigation of products and provide information to the public.


References:

 “Phene; Benzene – 1Source – 1Source.com.” https://1source.com/ingredients/phene?lang=eng. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

“Carcinogen Found in Hand Sanitizers That Plugged Covid Gap ….” 24 Mar. 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-24/carcinogen-found-in-hand-sanitizers-that-plugged-pandemic-gap. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

 “Some Hand Sanitizers Made During the Pandemic Have ….” 24 Mar. 2021, https://www.businessinsider.com/hand-sanitizers-made-covid-coronavirus-pandemic-carcinogen-benzene-2021-3. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

 “Some hand sanitizers found tainted with cancer … – Chicago Tribune.” 25 Mar. 2021, https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-covid-hand-sanitizer-benzene-carcinogen-20210324-xfnmhfztorfcflursbxdyd5esu-story.html. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

“Watch Fox News Channel and Fox Business … – Fox News Video.” 18 Jul. 2012, https://video.foxnews.com/v/5614615980001. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

 “Valisure Detects Benzene in Hand Sanitizers – Valisure.” 24 Mar. 2021, https://www.valisure.com/blog/valisure-news/valisure-detects-benzene-in-hand-sanitizers/. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.

 “Valisure’s FDA Citizen Petition on Hand Sanitizer.” 24 Mar. 2021, https://www.valisure.com/wp-content/uploads/Valisure-FDA-Citizen-Petition-on-Hand-Sanitizer-v4.14.pdf. Accessed 30 Mar. 2021.


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