Johnson & Johnson Recalls Sunscreen Products over Benzene Cancer Risk

Johnson & Johnson has announced a recall of popular sunscreen products because of the risk of cancer.  Affected sunscreen products contain the chemical Benzene, a known carcinogen.  The products identified in the recall are marketed under the brand names Neutrogena and Aveeno.

Which products are affected?

Here are the affected products:

  • NEUTROGENA® Beach Defense® aerosol sunscreen, 
  • NEUTROGENA® Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen,
  • NEUTROGENA® Invisible Daily™ defense aerosol sunscreen,
  • NEUTROGENA® Ultra Sheer® aerosol sunscreen, and
  • AVEENO® Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen.

Johnson & Johnson is warning users to stop using these products. 

“Consumers should stop using these specific products and appropriately discard them”

Of course, Johnson & Johnson is already laying the groundwork to minimize the risks they have created and to defend potential lawsuits.  Consider this excerpt from the recall announcement:

“Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen, a substance that could potentially cause cancer depending on the level and extent of exposure. Benzene is ubiquitous in the environment. Humans around the world have daily exposures indoors and outdoors from multiple sources. Benzene can be absorbed, to varying degrees, by inhalation, through the skin, and orally. Based on exposure modeling and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) framework, 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. Out of an abundance of caution, we are recalling all lots of these specific aerosol sunscreen products.”

“Benzene is ubiquitous in the environment”, they say, but they don’t tell you that’s because Benzene is an industrial pollutant.  The EPA, in contrast, says “Benzene is found in the air from emissions from burning coal and oil, gasoline service stations, and motor vehicle exhaust.”  Johnson & Johnson will deny that the unexplained presence of Benzene in their skincare products is the result of negligence based on this appeal to the “ubiquity” of the chemical. 

Next, Johnson & Johnson are claiming that “levels detected in our testing” would not be expected to cause “adverse health consequences.”  They do not say what the levels are.  Also, the use of the word “cause” does not assess whether increased Benzene exposure results in an increased risk of “adverse health consequences.”

What are the dangers of Benezne?

The EPA, advises that “chronic inhalation of certain levels of benzene causes disorders in the blood in humans. Benzene specifically affects bone marrow (the tissues that produce blood cells). Aplastic anemia (a risk factor for acute nonlymphocytic leukemia), excessive bleeding, and damage to the immune system (by changes in blood levels of antibodies and loss of white blood cells) may develop.” 

At the time of this writing, it is difficult to evaluate Johnson & Johnson’s claims that the Benzene in their sunscreen products is not harmful.  Instead, skepticism and caution seem the appropriate response.

I’ve used this product. What do I do?

If you have used Johnson & Johnson sunscreen and have experienced any Benzene side effects please call our products liability lawyers today.

Johnson & Johnson has also provided the following update:

Consumers may contact the JJCI Consumer Care Center 24/7 with questions or to request a refund by calling 1-800-458-1673. Consumers should contact their physician or healthcare provider if they have any questions, concerns or have experienced any problems related to using these aerosol sunscreen products. JJCI is also notifying its distributors and retailers by letter and is arranging for returnsof all recalled products. 

Adverse reactions or quality problems experienced with the use of this product may be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by fax.

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. Issues Voluntary Recall of Specific NEUTROGENA® and AVEENO® Aerosol Sunscreen Products Due to the Presence of Benzene 

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