Connecticut-based product testing company finds cancer-causing chemical in hand sanitizers

Muna Hassan

(Photo by EVG Culture from Pexels)

Connecticut-based online pharmacy and product testing company Valisure has found that some hand sanitizers on the market in the U.S. contain high levels of cancer-causing chemicals.

Among these contaminants is benzene, which, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), "causes cancer in humans. Long-term exposure to high levels of benzene in the air can cause leukemia, cancer of the blood-forming organs."

Ever since the beginning of the pandemic and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hand sanitizer demand and usage has increased. To help minimize the shortage of hand sanitizer in the supply chain, the CDC increased the temporary limit of benzene allowed in liquid hand sanitizers. The temporary limit is currently set at 2 parts per million (ppm).

Valisure regularly analyzes products sold through the online pharmacy. Prior to distributing a product, the company independently batch-certifies products in their in-house lab.

"We recently added benzene to our list of compounds that we test for and soon started detecting it in hand sanitizers," found and CEO of Valisure David Light said. "As it quickly became clear this was a problem broadly affecting the overall hand sanitizer market in the US, we decided to conduct a market sweep and then file a Citizen Petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)."

In the petition, Valisure said it "tested and detected high levels of benzene and other contaminants in specific batches of hand sanitizer products containing active pharmaceutical ingredients of ethanol and isopropanol."

This petition stemmed from the analysis of 260 bottle of hand sanitizer from 168 different brands. Of these, a total of 17 percent included benzene. Of higher concern is that 21 hand sanitizers (8 percent of the total) exceeded the 2 ppm temporary limit set forth by the CDC.

"It's shocking and frustrating to be detecting any levels of benzene in such a broadly used consumer product," Light said. "Benzene's toxicity in humans has been well known in the scientific community for over 120 years. It is arguably one of the most, if not most, known chemicals that can cause cancer in humans even at trace levels."

(Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels)

Hand sanitizers to avoid

According to Valisure's analysis, here are the brands of hand sanitizer to avoid.

  • Artnaturals
  • Beauty Concepts
  • Born Basic
  • Body Prescriptions
  • clean-protect-sanitize
  • Hand Clean 100
  • Huangjisoo
  • Miami CarryOn
  • Natural Wunderz
  • PureLogic
  • Puretize
  • The Crème Shop
  • TrueWash
  • Scentsational Soaps & Candles Inc.
  • Star Wars Mandalorian

For information and guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding the use of hand sanitizers and for a complete list of hand sanitizers that have not been approved for use, visit the FDA website.

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Muna has been a journalist and fitness professional for more than 10 years. With degrees in exercise science and dietetics, Muna focuses on informing people about how to lead a healthier lifestyle. Muna is the owner of Body and Mind by Muna, an online gym for at-home workouts, as well as MuslimahFit, a fitness app for women.


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