FDA warns consumers about benzene in hand sanitizers

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Without ability to force recalls, FDA can only warn consumers about benzene in hand sanitizers (nbcnews.com)

“The toxicity of benzene has been known for over 120 years. It’s directly linked with causing leukemia in humans,” said the CEO of a lab that found the contamination.

When Kayla Ridgely, a nurse in Queen Creek, Arizona, stumbled across bottles of hand sanitizer on sale for 99 cents at her local Walmart, it seemed like a gold mine. It was early in the pandemic, when cleaning products were in short supply, and the sanitizer was marketed as safe and plant-based, with a brand name that emphasized that messaging: Artnaturals, a company best known for its essential oils and hair products.

But earlier this year, Ridgely came across a study showing that the brand of hand sanitizer she had been using throughout the pandemic had sold bottles that tested positive for benzene, a solvent made from petroleum that is not allowed to be used in consumer products because it is carcinogenic.

Valisure, the lab that made findings about benzene in samples of Artnaturals sanitizer and other brands, had submitted a citizen petition in March asking the FDA to take action on Artnaturals and other hand sanitizer products. It also offered on its website to test more samples free of charge to anyone else who would send their sanitizer in.

So Ridgely submitted hers and received results in April that it was contaminated with benzene at levels of 13 parts per million — thousands of times above the EPA’s benzene limits of 5 parts per billion in drinking water, and more than six times above the FDA’s temporary guidance during the pandemic allowing trace amounts of benzene in over-the-counter drugs...
 
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