Benzene in Sunscreen Lawsuits
Recent independent laboratory tests have identified more than 75 sunscreen products that contain benzene. Benzene is a toxic industrial chemical with known cancer-causing effects.
The Whitley Law Firm is investigating cancer cases linked to sunscreens with unsafe levels of benzene. If you or a loved one used a contaminated sunscreen and developed cancer (such as leukemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma), our product liability lawyers can help.
Which Sunscreens Contain Benzene?
Benzene contamination of sunscreens was discovered in May 2021 by Valisure, a pharmacy that performs batch testing on medications and consumer products. The company found high levels of benzene in 78 different sunscreen and sun care products.
The full list of affected products is contained in a citizen petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration pushing for the recall of sunscreens with high benzene levels. Manufacturers whose products are included in the list are:
- Banana Boat
- CVS Health
- Max Block
- Raw Elements
- TopCare Everyday
- Sun Bum
- Fruit of the Earth
- Up & Up
- Ethical Zinc
- La Roche-Posay
Affected products include sunscreen lotions and sprays, as well as topical gels used to repair skin after sun exposure.
What Is Benzene?
Benzene is one of the most commonly used industrial chemicals in the United States. Trace amounts of benzene can be found in the air from burning gasoline, fumes generated through industrial plants, and in the smoke from tobacco products. A wide variety of consumer products also contain benzene, including paints, adhesives, cleaning solutions, and more.
Despite the pervasiveness of benzene, the chemical is extremely toxic to humans. Acute exposure to significant levels of benzene can be deadly. Exposure can occur through inhalation of fumes, ingestion of foods and liquids contaminated with benzene, and absorption through the skin or mucous membranes.
What Is the Danger of Sunscreens Contaminated with Benzene?
Most people don’t think twice before applying sunscreen. Whether you are working outdoors or spending the day at the beach, sunscreen is essential for limiting damage to the skin.
Unfortunately, consumers who regularly apply sunscreens containing high levels of benzene are at risk for multiple types of blood cancer, including leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Benzene and Leukemia
The body’s bone marrow is most susceptible to the toxic effects of exposure to benzene. Bone marrow is the tissue responsible for producing blood cells. High levels of benzene can cause the bone marrow to generate immature and abnormal blood cells characteristic of leukemia.
Depending on the type of leukemia, unhealthy blood cells outnumber healthy white blood cells or red blood cells. Symptoms may include:
- Excessive and uncontrolled bleeding (caused by problems with blood clotting)
- Greater susceptibility to infection
- Anemia (low levels of red blood cells, resulting in limited oxygen)
- Persistent fatigue
- Swelling of the lymph nodes
Leukemia may progress quickly (acute) or gradually (chronic). In chronic cases, leukemia may present with few or even no symptoms.
Benzene and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (also known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or NHL) is the single most common type of blood cancer. As with leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma develops as a result of adverse changes to the bone marrow. Unlike leukemia (which involves mutations of white blood cells known as leukocytes or, in some cases, red blood cell mutations), non-Hodgkin lymphoma occurs when lymphocytes (specialized white blood cells that are essential for healthy immune function) become cancerous.
Patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma may experience many of the same symptoms as somebody with leukemia. Swelling of the lymph nodes is especially common with NHL. Some of the most common areas where enlarged nodes might appear include:
- The sides of the neck
- Above the collarbone
- In the underarm area
- In the groin
As with leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be slow- or fast-acting.
Compensation for Benzene in Sunscreens
Being diagnosed with any type of cancer is one of the traumatic experiences a person can have. Patients are often forced to deal with multiple rounds of extensive treatment, resulting in physical and psychological pain as well as financial devastation. Even with timely intervention, the sad reality is that not every patient will survive, especially in cases of aggressive leukemia or lymphoma.
Cancers resulting from benzene exposure can take a long time to develop. The higher the level of exposure, the greater the risk of adverse effects.
If you or a loved one regularly used one of the sunscreens contaminated with unsafe levels of benzene and you or your relative was later diagnosed with blood cancer, you may be entitled to recovery of damages (such as medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more) from the manufacturer. A wrongful death claim can be filed in cases of fatal leukemia or non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
Get the Whitley Law Advantage
Many law firms claim to handle product liability claims. In reality, however, this is a complicated area of law requiring experience and resources that many solo attorneys and small firms simply don’t possess.
At the Whitley Law Firm, our team has extensive experience handling injury and wrongful death claims arising from defective products. We fully investigate the cause of your injuries, identify who is liable, and build a strong claim on your behalf. Our goal is to pursue the best outcome for each client based on their unique situation.
If you or a loved one suffered benzene exposure from a defective sunscreen, please contact the Whitley Law Firm at (919) 785-5000 today for service in Raleigh, Kinston, New Bern, and elsewhere in North Carolina. It won’t cost anything to see if we can help.