Dove, Suave dry shampoo recalled for ‘elevated levels’ of cancer-causing chemical

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Several popular dry shampoo products have been recalled due to “potentially elevated levels” of benzene, a chemical known to cause cancer in humans.

Unilever United States announced a recall of 19 dry shampoo aerosol products produced prior to October 2021, according to a statement published by the US Food and Drug Administration. These include dry shampoos from the brands Dove, Suave, and TRESemmé.

A complete list of recalled products can be found here.

After conducting an internal investigation, the company identified the propellant used in its aerosol cans as the source for the high levels of benzene.

“Unilever has worked with its propellant suppliers to address this issue,” the company said, adding that US retailers have been notified to remove the 19 recalled products from their shelves.

However, Unilever said that an independent health hazard evaluation found that daily exposure to the benzene in its recalled dry shampoo products “would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences.”

What is benzene? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, benzene is a chemical that can occur naturally in the environment  – such as in crude oil or gasoline – and can be used to manufacture plastics, lubricants, dyes and detergents. Indoor and outdoor air also contains low levels of benzene due to tobacco smoke, motor vehicle exhaust, industrial emissions and or household paints.

The major effect of long-term exposure to benzene is on the blood, which can lead to a decrease in red blood cells – or anemia – after a year or more of exposure to high benzene levels. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has determined that benzene can also cause blood-related cancers, such as leukemia.

The FDA has identified steps for consumers in case they come in contact with one of the 19 recalled dry shampoo products. Anyone who has the recalled products is urged to either throw them away or return the items from where they were purchased. Those who have experienced adverse reactions or quality problems with any of the recalled products can submit a report through the FDA website.

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