Some hand sanitizers created during the COVID pandemic contain high levels of the cancer-causing chemical benzene


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Some hand sanitizers that showed up during the day coronavirus pandemic to help meet demand contain high levels of a cancer-causing chemical, a new one analysis finds.

Valisure, an online pharmacy based in New Haven, Connecticut, said it detected benzene in several batches of multiple brands of hand sanitizer.


The product is considered dangerous as asbestos, and several companies had levels up to eight times the limit recommended by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The presence of benzene, a known human carcinogen, and several other contaminants in products that are widely recommended for the prevention of the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 and which is commonly found in large quantities in adults children makes these findings especially troubling, ”Valisure wrote in a letter to the FDA.

Valisure, an online pharmacy based in New Haven, Connecticut, tested 260 bottles of hand sanitizer from 168 brands and found benzene in several bottles, including the company's artsnatural, which is eight times more than the recommended limit (above)

Valisure, an online pharmacy based in New Haven, Connecticut, tested 260 bottles of hand sanitizer from 168 brands and found benzene in several bottles, including the company’s artsnatural, which is eight times more than the recommended limit (above)

A total of 44 batches, or 17% - including these Satar Wars hand sanitizers (above) - had detectable levels of benzene, a carcinogen linked to certain types of blood cancers such as leukemia

A total of 44 batches, or 17% – including these Satar Wars hand sanitizers (above) – had detectable levels of benzene, a carcinogen linked to certain types of blood cancers such as leukemia

Benzene is a liquid chemical that is usually colorless but can turn a light yellow color at room temperature.

It occurs naturally in volcanoes and as a result of forest fires, but is also used to make a variety of products, including detergents, dyes, lubricants and rubbers.

Exposure to high levels of benzene can cause cells to malfunction, such as preventing the bone marrow from producing enough red blood cells or damaging the immune system to lose white blood cells, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified benzene as a carcinogen, placing it in the highest risk category, Group 1, along with other chemicals such as asbestos.

Benzene has been linked to blood cancers such as leukemia

HAND DISINFECTANTS WITH THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF BENZENE

1. artnaturals

2. Fragrant

3. huangjisoo

4. TrueWash

5. The cream shop

6. Star Wars Mandalorian

7. Body regulations

8. Born Basic

9. beauty concepts

10. PureLogic

The FDA currently recommends a two parts per million (ppm) limit for liquid hand sanitizer, but has no recommendations for others, such as sprays.

For its analysis, Valisure sampled 260 bottles from 168 brands sold at various big box stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and online retailers across the country.

Of the liquid and non-liquid products tested, 44 batches, or 17 percent, had detectable benzene levels.

In total, 21 bottles, or eight percent of the stock, contain benzene levels in excess of two parts per million.

A 250 ml bottle of hand sanitizer made by the company’s art naturals had the highest benzene content at 16 parts per million.

Test results from the online pharmacy have been verified by Yale University’s Chemical and Biophysical Instrumentation Center and Boston Analytics, a private laboratory.

All products with the highest benzene content started selling their products in April or May 2020, according to data from the FDA, when crusts disappeared from the shelves.

Valisure believes some sanitizers may have become contaminated with benzene, as the chemical is sometimes used in alcohol purification, although it is supposed to be removed before packaging the hand sanitizer.

Twenty-one bottles, 8%, had benzene levels above the FDA-recommended limit of two parts per million, like this hand sanitizer made by Huangjisoo (ABKVE)

Twenty-one bottles, 8%, had benzene levels above the FDA-recommended limit of two parts per million, like this hand sanitizer made by Huangjisoo (ABKVE)

Valisure has sent a letter to the FDA asking it to recall the parties and conduct its own analysis.  Pictured: One of the high benzene hand sanitizers

Valisure has sent a letter to the FDA asking it to recall the parties and conduct its own analysis. Pictured: One of the high benzene hand sanitizers

Valisure has drafted a citizen petition with the FDA identifying the products and asking the agency to recall batches, conduct its own analysis, and develop guidance documents defining the limit of benzene for all hand sanitizers.

This isn’t the first time that potentially toxic hand sanitizers have come under public scrutiny.

In June 2020, the FDA warned Americans to stop using nine hand sanitizers because they contain varying amounts of methanol.

Methanol is a type of alcohol that can be toxic if absorbed through the skin or swallowed.

Not long after, the FDA warned against taking hand sanitizer after at least seven people in New Mexico did, leaving three dead and one permanently blind.

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