Some Hand Sanitizers Found to Be Tainted With Cancer-Causing Chemical

Some widely available hand sanitizers that American consumers snapped up last year to ward off coronavirus infection contain high levels of a chemical known to cause cancer, a testing firm’s analysis found.

An assortment of hand cleaners that flooded into the market after mainstays disappeared from retail outlets contain high levels of benzene, according to Valisure, a New Haven, Connecticut-based online pharmacy that tests products for quality and consistency.

Benzene causes cancer, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The World Health Organization’s cancer research arm puts it in the highest risk category, on par with asbestos.

Valisure analyzed 260 bottles from 168 brands and found 17% of the samples contained detectable levels of benzene. Twenty-one bottles, or 8%, contained benzene above two parts per million, a temporary limit the FDA set for liquid hand sanitizers to ease the supply squeeze.

That level “can be tolerated for a relatively short period of time,” the FDA said in June. Fifteen brands were represented among the 21 bottles with the highest levels of contamination. The samples came from the shelves of stores nearby its headquarters and online outlets, Valisure said.

To see Valisure’s citizen petition to the FDA, including a list of brands identified with high benzene levels, click here.

Exhorted by politicians and health officials to wash their hands, consumers quickly exhausted supplies of household names such as Purell and Suave. While those brands, like most of those tested, didn’t contain unsafe benzene levels, many new entrants did, according to Valisure. Some of these tainted sanitizers were found for sale at Inc. and Target Corp. outlets.

Most hand sanitizers Valisure found and tested were gels. The pharmacy’s test results were verified by Yale University’s Chemical and Biophysical Instrumentation Center and Boston Analytical, a private lab. On Wednesday, Valisure asked the Food and Drug Administration to take action on the contaminated products.

Hand sanitizer brands with bottles testing for the highest levels of benzene detected by Valisure

1. artnaturals9. beauty concepts
2. Scentsational Soaps & Candles Inc.10. PureLogic
3. huangjisoo11. Miami Carry On
4. TrueWash12. Natural Wunderz
5. The Creme Shop13. clean-protect-sanitize
6. Star Wars Mandalorian14. Puretize
7. Body Prescriptions15. Hand Clean 100
8. Born Basic

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