- Benzene is used in the manufacture of certain plastics, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides.
- Not all sunscreens contain benzene, proof that this carcinogen is not essential for the manufacture of sunscreens.
- The FDA, an American health authority, is studying the use of this product for sun protection.
Summer is coming and sunburns are never far away. To avoid them, you have to protect yourself well because these skin burns are never harmless. The best way to do this is to apply sunscreen. But there too there can be danger. The best is always to buy a new one and not to reuse those of the previous year because this one is often less effective.
Benzene, a toxic product
Even if you use a new protective cream, the health risk is not zero. Indeed, some compounds are found in the blood. Recently, the American pharmaceutical company Valisure, which checks the quality of drugs and health products, warned about the presence of benzene in many sunscreens. However, this chemical compound, which the laboratory discovered in 78 sun protection products, is carcinogenic. Exposure to high levels of benzene causes cancer in humans, particularly cancer of the blood, including leukemia. The laboratory thus alerted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US health authority.
Benzene is a colorless or light yellow liquid that forms naturally but is also produced by human activities. It is found in particular in automobile emissions. Burning coal and petroleum can also release benzene into the air. This product is used in the manufacture of certain plastics, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs and pesticides.
A situation to be regulated
Given the toxicity of benzene, the authorities limit its use in essential products that cannot be manufactured without it, to very low doses. In the case of sunscreens, the limit is 2 parts per million (ppm). Among the products studied by the Valisure laboratory, fourteen of the products, or 5%, contain benzene at higher levels. Almost all of the 14 sunscreen products with benzene levels above 2 ppm were sprays but the chemical has also appeared in sunburn lotions and gels. “The presence of this known human carcinogen in products widely recommended for the prevention of skin cancer and which are regularly used by adults and children is very disturbing.”Said David Light, founder and CEO of Valisure, in a May 25 statement.
The lab asked the FDA to investigate the need for benzene in sunscreens. Indeed, the presence of this product was not detected in all the sunscreens tested. Its use does not therefore appear to be “inevitable”, as stipulated by the FDA to justify its presence in certain products. “It is essential that regulators address the benzene contamination of sunscreens so that all individuals feel safe using sunscreen products.e, ”said Christopher Bunick, associate professor of dermatology at Yale University, in the statement.
FDA to Investigate Use of Benzene in Sunscreens
Valisure is also asking the FDA to set a limit for the levels used in pharmaceuticals in standard situations. She also wants to have an exposure limit threshold in one day. “The FDA takes seriously any safety concerns raised about the products we regulate, including sunscreens. While the agency assesses this issue, we will continue to monitor the sunscreen market and manufacturing efforts to help ensure the availability of safe sunscreens for U.S. consumers.”, Reacted the FDA to LiveScience.