More than a million Americans may have been exposed to a cancer-causing chemical in dry shampoos made by household brands.
Unilever recalled over 1.5 million products last week because they may contain elevated levels of benzene, a human carcinogen strongly linked to leukemia and other blood disorders.
The affected goods are dry shampoo aerosol products made before October 2021 from brands Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TRESemmé and TIGI (Rockaholic and Bed Head).
People who purchased the shampoos — which are listed in full on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website — should stop using them and visit for reimbursement instructions.
Public goods conglomerate Unilever has pulled 19 dry shampoos from the US market, totally more than a million products, after detecting the carcinogen benzene in the products.
WHICH PRODUCTS ARE AFFECTED?
• Dove Dry Shampoo Volume and Fullness
• Dove Dry Shampoo Fresh Coconut
• Dove Dry Shampoo Fresh and Floral
• Dove Dry Shampoo Ultra Clean
• Dove Dry Shampoo Invisible
• Dove Dry Shampoo Detox and Purify
• Dove Dry Shampoo Clarifying Charcoal
• Dove Dry Shampoo Go Active
• Nexxus Dry Shampoo Refreshing Mist
• Nexxus Inergy Foam Shampoo
• Suave Dry Shampoo Hair Refresher
• Suave Professionals Dry Shampoo Refresh and Revive
• Tresemme Dry Shampoo Volumizing
• Tresemme Dry Shampoo Fresh and Clean
• Tresemme Pro Pure Dry Shampoo
• Bed Head Oh Bee Hive Dry Shampoo
• Bed Head Oh Bee Hive Volumizing Dry Shampoo
• Bed Head Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo
• Bed Head Rockaholic Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo
The home goods conglomerate said it had not received any reports of ‘adverse events’ linked to benzene exposure in the products and an internal investigation had not produced evidence that concentrations of benzene in the affected products would have caused health issues.
But the company proceeded with the recall ‘out of an abundance of caution.’
Unilever identified the propellant in the spray as the culprit.
Butane, a petroleum product, is a common propellant in aerosol spray cans. If not refined properly, the resulting gas could contain other components from the crude oil, such as benzene.
Benzene – the cancer causing chemical found in millions of dry shampoos
Benzene is a cancer-causing chemical, also known as a carcinogen, that is widely used in manufacturing in the US.
It is used in the creation of plastic, nylon, rubbers, paint and glue products.
It can also be found in tobacco smoke, motor vehicle exhaust and industrial emissions.
Long-term exposure to the chemical has been linked to severe damage to a person’s blood.
In has been linked to blood cancers like leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The chemical has also been linked to anemia.
Inhaling or absorbing benzene over a long period of time can have devastating health effects because it causes the cells in the body to work incorrectly.
Long term exposure can lead to leukemia and different blood disorders.
Overexposure to benzene can also cause bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, which can lead to anemia.
It can also wreak havoc on the immune system by altering blood levels of antibodies and killing off white blood cells.
Inhalation of high concentrations of benzene in the short term can cause a myriad of adverse effects such as dizziness, headaches, irregular heartbeat, and, in certain severe circumstances, death.
Despite the risks associated with it, benzene is ubiquitous. It’s present in cigarette smoke, gasoline, glues, and paints.
Benzene is also crucial to developing certain plastics, rubbers, nylon, synthetic fibers, resins, dyes, pesticides, and detergents.
Recalls over benzene contamination are not unprescedented. In fact, a bevy of aerosolized products including deoderants, conditioners, and sunscreens have been recalled in the past two years over possible contamination.
The dry shampoo recall is the second recall over possible benzene contamination that Unilever has issued this year.
In March, the company pulled two Suave 24-hour protection aerosol antiperspirants from the market after an internal review detected the presence of benzene in some product samples.
Last year, Procter & Gamble recalled 32 dry shampoo and conditioner products after detecting benzene in some of them.
It was among over half a dozen recalls of products contaminated with the cancer causing chemical.
Also last year, Johnson & Johnson issued a recall for five of its aerosol sunscreens after finding trace amounts of benzene in them.