A number of widely-available hand sanitizer brands have been found to contain high levels of benzene, a chemical known to cause cancer.
Bloomberg reports that New Haven, Connecticut online pharmacy Valisure found that some of the sanitizers that flooded the market at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic contained benzene, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say causes cancer. The World Health Organization’s research into cancer shows that benzene is high-risk, similiar in nature to the level of risk that comes from asbestos.
Valisure tested and analyzed 260 bottles of hand sanitizer from 168 brands, and 17 percent of the samples contained levels of benzene that were detectable. The samples were collected from stores nearby the company’s headquarters, and a number of online stores. The brands that contained the highest levels of benzene were Scentsational Soaps & Candles Inc., huangjisoo, TrueWash, the Creem Shop, artnaturals, “Star Wars Mandalorian,” Born Basic, beauty concepts, and PureLogic among others. The Star Wars sanitizer comes from Best Brands Consumer Products Inc., in the form of a Baby Yoda-themed bottle.
“These findings are alarming and reveal a serious potential risk to public health,” said Valisure in a petition signed by the company’s CEO David Light. The company previously discovered cancer-causing chemicals in drug components sources from overseas. While it’s not immediately clear how or why the sanitizers contained such high levels of benzene, it has been suggested it might have been introduced during the manufacturing process.
“Valisure found hand sanitizer products that contain levels of benzene that significantly exceed the 2 ppm interim FDA restriction in both liquid and non-liquid formulation and detectable levels of benzene in many other hand sanitizer products,” the company concluded.