Cancer-Causing Chemical Found In At Least 44 Hand Sanitizers

By Jason Hall

March 25, 2021

Benzene, a substance capable of causing cancer, was recently found in several batches of multiple hand sanitizer brands.

Valisure tested 260 hand sanitizer products and found 44 batches (17%) contained benzene, according to a news release shared on its website Wednesday (March 24.)

Benzene is recognized by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other agencies to cause cancer in humans, with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) listing “inhalation, skin absorption, ingestion, skin and/or eye contact” as exposure routes.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states benzene should not be used in any drug product due to its toxicity, however, allowed an interim limit of 2 parts per million (ppm) for benzene in liquid hand sanitizers to meet the high demand created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The highest level of benzene detected during Valisure's analysis was 16.1ppm, which was more than eight times the interim limit by the FDA. The pharmacy is asking the FDA to request an immediate recall on the contaminated batches and update its guidance to include an exposure limit for benzene, as well as a concentration.

Additionally, Valisure is requesting the FDA further investigates the batches to confirm whether the contaminated batches are also inconsistent with FDA guidance to not add inactive ingredients -- including those that improve smell, taste or appearance -- to increase ingestion among children.

Valisure said its analysis showed some highly contaminated batches appeared to be specifically marketed for children.

Photo: Getty Images

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