Cancer experts are urging companies that sell personal care products to step up vigilance and test for toxic chemicals after a mass dry shampoo recall in Canada this week.
On Tuesday, Unilever and Health Canada announced a recall involving more than 1.5 million dry shampoo products made by Dove, Bedhead and Tresemme because the cancer-causing chemical benzene was detected.
This is not the first time that benzene has been detected in personal care products such as dry shampoo, deodorant and aerosol spray sunscreen in Canada, resulting in a safety recall.
In December 2021, more than 800,000 dry shampoo and conditioner aerosol spray products by Herbal Essence and Pantene were also recalled due to detection of benzene.
And last November, about 1.4 million units of Old Spice and Secret antiperspirants were part of another benzene-related recall.
1:09These are three things to look for when buying dry shampoo.
In fact, according to Health Canada records, at least 11 recalls in the past two years have been linked to aerosol spray products and elevated benzene levels.
Paul Demers, director of the Center for Occupational Cancer Research and professor at the University of Toronto, said it was disturbing to see the trend.
“This is not what you think will end up being a personal care product,” he said.
“You certainly don’t want to spray it on your body or put it in your hair.
Here’s what you should know:
Benzene is a colorless or pale yellow liquid chemical with a sweet smell.
Toxic and highly flammable chemicals are naturally produced by human activity.
Benzene is also used in the production of plastics, resins, nylons, synthetic fibers, and other chemicals involved in the production of lubricants, rubber, dyes, detergents, pharmaceuticals, and pesticides.
In Canada, ambient and indoor air is the primary source of human exposure to benzene.
In the United States, benzene is widely used and ranks among the top 20 chemicals by production volume, according to the CDC.
Why was benzene found in dry shampoo?
Ivan Litvinov, a dermatologist and scientist in the cancer research program at McGill University Health Center Institute (MUHC), said he wasn’t surprised by the recent recall.
His own research highlights that benzene contamination is nothing new and the chemical has been known to contaminate many personal care products in recent years.
“Benzene is inevitable and we are exposed to it whether we want to or not,” he said.
The recalled products were distributed across Canada through retail stores and online.
Photo credit: Health Canada
Unilever Canada said it does not use benzene as an ingredient in its products.
In a statement announcing the recall, the distributor said an internal investigation identified an aerosol propellant as the cause of “potentially elevated levels of benzene” in several lots of its dry shampoo products. I got
Litvinov said the origin of raw materials and the manufacturing process could be causing elevated levels of benzene.
“I think it’s contamination from raw materials, because the benzene isn’t inherent in the product itself.”
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According to Health Canada, benzene is a carcinogen, and exposure to the chemical through inhalation or absorption through the mouth or skin causes leukemia, blood cancer of the bone marrow, and potentially life-threatening blood disorders. There is a possibility.
However, “daily exposure to benzene in recalled products at levels found in the tests is not expected to cause adverse health effects,” officials said.
Demers said the risk of exposure to benzene from using hair products is not cause for great concern.