Carcinogen found in 44 hand sanitizer brands introduced during pandemic

Online pharmacy Valisure has detected a carcinogen called benzene in 44 brands of hand sanitizer that entered the market during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Benzene is an industrial chemical known to cause leukemia and carry other serious health risks, Valisure said March 24. 

Though benzene is usually banned by the FDA, because of the high demand for hand sanitizer during the pandemic the agency loosened its rules to allow 2 parts per million of benzene in liquid hand sanitizers. 

Of the 260 hand sanitizer brands tested by Valisure, 44 batches contained benzene, with the highest level of the carcinogen detected at 16.1 parts per million, more than eight times the FDA's limit. 

Valisure released a petition asking the FDA to request an immediate recall of all of the contaminated batches and update its guidance to include an exposure limit for benzene. 

Valisure also said that some of the highly contaminated batches appear to be specifically marketed to children. Some had cartoon imagery of "Star Wars" character Baby Yoda, according to The Hill. 

"The detection of hand sanitizer products that contain high levels of benzene is cause for significant concern as these products are potentially being used in high volumes several times daily by adults and children alike. We urge FDA and manufacturers to act expeditiously to remove the contaminated lots from the market," said David Light, CEO of Valisure. 

Read Valisure's full news release here


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