Deodorant manufacturers recall benzene-contaminated products

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on July 29th, 2022

In November 2021, the independent pharmacy Valisure uncovered benzene contamination in deodorant and antiperspirant products from several popular US brands. These findings were made public in a petition asking for greater FDA regulatory involvement, demanding that manufacturers recall all tainted products immediately.

Valisure, who also brought benzene-tainted sunscreen to the public's attention, tested 108 batches of deodorant products from 30 different brands. Their results show that 59 batches, or almost 55% of the total, were contaminated with benzene in various amounts, in some cases as high as 17.7ppm.

While the FDA allows a 2ppm (parts per million) benzene concentration, this only applies to a narrow range of drugs that serve a significant therapeutic function; otherwise, the FDA categorizes benzene as a highly-toxic "class 1 solvent" with no safe level of exposure and carcinogen associated with debilitating conditions such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). The EPA has a far stricter standard for benzene in drinking water of 5ppb (part per billion).

The source of contamination

While benzene in body spray deodorants represents a risk for consumers, no manufacturer actively uses benzene as an ingredient. Valisure notes that contamination most likely occurs due to the propellants used in aerosol sprays, like butane, isobutane, propane, alcohol, and hydrofluorocarbon 152a.

Regardless of the source, product safety remains the manufacturer's responsibility. The presence of carcinogens in personal-care products, which may be applied multiple times a day, caused consumer outrage and determined several class action complaints.

P&G and Unilever issue voluntary recalls

After the benzene-contamination issue became public, deodorant manufacturers began voluntarily recalling tainted products. Procter and Gamble recalled 18 spray deodorants under the Secret and Old Spice brands on November 23, 2021, "out of an abundance of caution." After consumer complaints regarding benzene-tainted deodorants were gathered into a multi-district litigation class action suit, P&G decided to settle the matter out of court in May 2022.

Several deodorant sprays under the Sure and Brute brands were recalled in February 2022 under the same "abundance of caution" claim, followed by Unilever issuing a recall of two Suave brand products in late March 2022, both of which had more than double the 2ppm FDA standard.

Although manufacturers have endeavored to take contaminated products off the shelves, not all contaminated deodorants were adequately addressed. My Imports USA didn't recall Tag branded products with reported benzene concentrations between 2.30 - 14.1 ppm, and Right Guard Sport deodorants (2.61 - 5.00 ppm) produced by Thriving Brands LLC likewise weren't recalled. Notably, none of the Valisure-tested products with evident traces of benzene lower than 2ppm were voluntarily called back.

Our astute attorneys can help you file a benzene deodorant claim

For more than 30 years, Environmental Litigation Group's skilled attorneys and legal team have leveraged their experience to help toxic exposure victims pursue compensation for their suffering from the liable manufacturers. If your use of benzene-tainted deodorants has led to a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, or chronic lymphocytic leukemia, we can determine your claim's eligibility and assist you with the legal process.

We will only require you to provide us with the relevant details of your situation and copies of your medical records. After a thorough analysis, our experienced attorneys will let you know if your claim is eligible and prepare it for submission if you choose to proceed. We will handle the challenging legal aspects on your behalf, allowing you to focus on matters of more immediate importance.