High levels of benzene, a cancer-causing chemical, have been detected in several brands and batches of dry shampoo products, according to a new report from Valisure, an independent laboratory.
Just last month, certain aerosol dry shampoos – including some Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI and TRESemmé products – were voluntarily recalled due to the potential presence of benzene.
Then on Monday, Valisure submitted a citizen petition to the US Food and Drug Administration in which the lab described that among 148 batches from 34 different brands of dry shampoo products, 70% of the samples tested showed “quantifiable” levels of benzene.
According to their report, 11 samples showed levels above 10 times more than 2 parts per million (ppm), the FDA limit for drugs.
“However, the dry shampoos tested are not drugs and contain no active pharmaceutical ingredient for therapeutic purposes; therefore, any significant detection of benzene can be considered unacceptable. Furthermore, Valisure shows data from the analysis of benzene by direct sampling of contaminated air after spraying dry shampoo products, which suggesting the potential for short- and long-term inhalation exposure to high levels of benzene. The presence of this known human carcinogen in dry shampoo products that are regularly used indoors and in large volumes makes this finding particularly troubling,” wrote David Light, CEO of Valisure, and Qian Wu, Valisure’s head of global analytics, in FDA Citizen Petition.
The petition urges the FDA to “expeditiously request recalls” of the affected batches of products containing benzene and to better define limits for benzene contamination in other products.
The FDA normally takes 180 days to respond to a citizen petition.
In summary, three batches of dry shampoo products from one brand of spray contained more than 100 ppm of benzene, according to the petition, and some samples tested by Valisure showed more than 10 times the FDA drug limit. The petition also mentions that Valisure has detected benzene in other commonly used products, including certain hand sanitizers and sunscreens.
CNN reached out to the brands listed in the petition and reached out to the FDA for comment, but did not immediately hear back from all of them.
In a statement, Church & Dwight, the maker of Batiste hair products, said: “Consumer safety is of the utmost importance. When propellants were reported to be the source of benzene in competitors’ recalled products, we contacted our propellant suppliers and confirmed with those suppliers that the propellants used in our Batiste products do not contain benzene. We will consider the report at the center of the latest allegations.”
Hair care brand Not Your Mother’s, listed in the petition, told CNN in a statement: “The safety of our consumers is our highest priority. We are concerned about a recently published report related to the dry shampoo category, which raises questions about levels of benzene detected in propellant used in aerosol products manufactured on or before fall 2021. This report is inconsistent with the data provided by our suppliers and the rigorous ongoing testing to ensure the safety and integrity of our products. These tests show no traceable amounts of benzene. We are committed to continuous evaluation to ensure the utmost safety and quality of all our products.”
Valisure’s Light said in a new release, “The detection of high levels of benzene in dry shampoos should be cause for significant concern since these products are likely to be used indoors, where benzene can linger and be inhaled for extended periods of time.
“These and other issues identified by Valisure, including the detection of benzene in body spray, hand sanitizer and sunscreen products, strongly emphasize the importance of independent testing and its need to be better integrated into an increasingly complex and vulnerable global supply chain.”
Last year, several deodorants and sunscreen products were recalled due to detections of benzene.
Benzene is formed from both natural and man-made processes. “Natural sources of benzene include volcanoes and forest fires. Benzene is also a natural component of crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The main way people are exposed is by breathing air that contains benzene,” according to the American Cancer Society.