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Some Hand Sanitizers Are Contaminated with Benzene

Benzene is a bad actor. Do not breathe it or get this carcinogen on your skin. And yet some hand sanitizers are contaminated with benzene.
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Some Hand Sanitizers Are Contaminated with Benzene

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Hand sanitizers have become ubiquitous in homes, doctors’ offices, supermarkets, banks and dozens of other establishments. There have been problems with some products that were contaminated with methanol, also known as wood alcohol. Read about this known problem here. Now a new impurity has surfaced. A surprising number of hand sanitizers are contaminated with the carcinogen benzene.

Valisure Uncovers Another Screw Up!

The online pharmacy Valisure tests pharmaceuticals for quality. As far as we can tell, neither the FDA nor other pharmacies do this kind of testing. You may remember that Valisure discovered that the popular heartburn drug ranitidine (Zantac) contained unacceptable levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA).

The FDA eventually acknowledged that this probable carcinogen was a problem and ranitidine disappeared from pharmacy shelves. You can read about this debacle at this link

Ranitidine – Zantac is Going, Going Gone At Last!
Have you ever taken Zantac or ranitidine for acid stomach, indigestion or heartburn? Tens of millions of people did. Now, Zantac is going to disappear. Why?

Benzene Is A Bad Actor and Some Hand Sanitizers Are Contaminated!

Now, Valisure has just reported that many hand sanitizers are contaminated with the carcinogen benzene. Valisure tested 260 hand sanitizers from 168 manufacturers and found that 17% of them contain benzene.

The FDA has set an interim limit for benzene at 2 ppm, and 21 of the batches tested exceeded that limit. Benzene can be absorbed through the skin and is also volatile and can be inhaled.

How bad is benzene? BAD! The American Cancer Society states

“Benzene is known to cause cancer, based on evidence from studies in both people and lab animals. The link between benzene and cancer has largely focused on leukemia and other cancers of blood cells.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) links benzene to multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a number of leukemias. The United States National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consider benzene a “known human carcinogen.” The CDC states:

“The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that benzene causes cancer in humans.”

When Hand Sanitizers Are Contaminated People Can Absorb Benzene:

Remember that benzene can be absorbed through the skin. It can also be inhaled. Bottom line: You do not want to expose yourself or your family to benzene!

On March 24, 2021 Valisure sent a Citizen Petition to the FDA requesting a recall of hand sanitizers contaminated with benzene. In addition to benzene, the Valisure testing system detected methanol and acetaldehyde in certain hand sanitizers. You don’t want them either!

We are not holding our breath in anticipation that the FDA will jump into action. The FDA moves slowly.

We find the announcement by Valisure especially ironic because on March 25, 2021 the FDA issued this announcement that some hand sanitizers are contaminated

“FDA updates on hand sanitizers consumers should not use”

“[3/25/2021] FDA is warning consumers and health care professionals not to use Durisan Antimicrobial Solutions Hand Sanitizer manufactured by Sanit Technologies LLC doing business as Durisan in Sarasota, Florida, due to microbial contamination. Durisan has voluntarily recalled its hand sanitizer product.

“Durisan tested its hand sanitizer and found microbial contamination including high levels of Burkholderia cepacia complex and Ralstonia pickettii, which can lead to serious infections, including infection of the skin, soft tissues, lungs or bloodstream. Individuals with compromised immune systems are at increased risk. Infection can occur with use of the contaminated hand sanitizer by consumers or by health care professionals who may also transmit the contaminating bacteria to patients. Use of this contaminated hand sanitizer by health care professionals who tend to an at-risk patient, such as one with cystic fibrosis, could lead to adverse events ranging from a localized infection to lung or bloodstream infections, which could require patient hospitalization or extend an existing hospitalization.”

Now that’s a real kick in the pants. The idea that some hand sanitizers are contaminated with microbes that could “lead to serious infections, including infection of the skin, soft tissues, lungs or bloodstream” is the ultimate insult. People are trying to protect themselves from COVID-19 and other germs and could end up with something very nasty because of their hand sanitizer. The FDA didn’t say a word in this warning that some hand sanitizers are contaminated with benzene.

Listen to Our Podcast Interview with David Light of Valisure About Benzene in Hand Sanitizers.

You can stream this short audio podcast by going to the green circle under the photograph of hand sanitizer. Just click on the arrow to listen. 

You can get your hand sanitizer tested by Valisure by going to this link

Share your thoughts on the issue that hand sanitizers are contaminated in the comment section below. 

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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