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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Banana Boat recalls hair and scalp sunscreen over low levels of carcinogen

Three batches of Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen were recalled because they contained trace levels of benzene, a human carcinogen. The FDA said consumers should immediately stop using the product if it came from any of the three batches recalled.

By April Rubin

The parent company of Banana Boat recalled batches of a sunscreen spray because they contained trace levels of benzene, a carcinogen, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said. Consumers were urged to stop using the products.

Edgewell Personal Care, which owns Banana Boat, issued the voluntary nationwide recall Friday for products in three batches of SPF 30 hair and scalp sunscreen that were found to contain the carcinogen, according to the FDA.

“Consumers should stop using the affected product immediately and appropriately discard,” officials said.

The lot codes — found on the bottom of the cans — of the three recalled batches are 20016AF, 20084BF and 21139AF, with expiration dates in December 2022, February 2023 and April 2024. All spray cans recalled are 6 ounces.

“No other Banana Boat products are in the scope of this recall and may continue to be used by consumers safely and as intended,” the FDA said.

Benzene is not an ingredient in any Banana Boat product, but it is part of the propellant that sprays the sunscreen out of the can, the FDA said. Retailers were told to remove the products from shelves. The sunscreen had been sold online and in stores.

“Exposure to benzene can occur by inhalation, orally and through the skin,” the administration said, “and it potentially can result in cancers including leukemia and blood cancer of the bone marrow and blood disorders, which can be life-threatening.”

Low levels of benzene can be found in products such as plastics and detergents, as well as at gas stations and in the air through tobacco smoke, motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Benzene causes cells to work incorrectly and can damage the immune system.

“The seriousness of poisoning caused by benzene depends on the amount, route and length of time of exposure,” the CDC said, “as well as the age and preexisting medical condition of the exposed person.”

People are exposed to trace levels of benzene in their environment. No adverse effects related to the Banana Boat sunscreens have been reported, but consumers should contact their health care providers if they experience problems, according to the FDA.

“We know that you love our products, and we are conducting this recall out of an abundance of caution,” Banana Boat said on its website.

Similar benzene-related recalls have occurred in the past. Johnson & Johnson issued a recall for some Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreen sprays last year after testing found low levels of benzene.

Banana Boat will offer reimbursement for buyers of these products. For more information, consumers can visit the Banana Boat website or call 1-888-686-3988.

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