Johnson & Johnson Recalls Sunscreen Because of Benzene Traces

Johnson & Johnson issued a voluntary recall on Wednesday for five of its sunscreen sprays after testing found low levels of benzene, a carcinogen, in the products. Consumers were told to stop using the products and throw them out.

The recall included four Neutrogena aerosol sprays — Beach Defense, Cool Dry Sport, Invisible Daily and Ultra Sheer — and the Aveeno Protect + Refresh spray.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we are recalling all lots of these specific aerosol sunscreen products,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. “While benzene is not an ingredient in any of our sunscreen products, it was detected in some samples of the impacted aerosol sunscreen finished products.”

The company said it was still investigating why there were traces of benzene.

Based on exposure modeling and Environmental Protection Agency guidance, Johnson & Johnson determined that “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.”

Benzene is a carcinogen, which can cause cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The highly flammable chemical, which is colorless or slightly yellow, is regularly found throughout the United States in products such as gasoline, plastics, detergents, pesticides, drugs, nylon and synthetic fibers, according to the C.D.C. Cigarette smoke and forest fires are also sources of the carcinogen.

Low levels of benzene are also found in outdoor air, from gas stations, motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions, according to the C.D.C.

Benzene, which causes cells in the body not to work properly, can cause anemia or loss of white blood cells, according to the C.D.C. Long-term exposure — which the C.D.C. defines as a year or more — to significant amounts of benzene can cause leukemia or excessive bleeding.

The sprays in question were sold at retail stores across the country. Consumers who have questions or want to seek a refund can call 1-800-458-1673.

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