Dry shampoos used by millions recalled for cancer-causing chemical

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Whether you use them to touch up hair that has lost its volume or revive your hairstyle on a busy day, dry shampoos have become a go-to product for many. However, Unilever has voluntarily recalled over 1.5 million products over a cancer-causing chemical. From Dove to Nexxus and Suave to TRESemmé, here are the products in question.

Unilever U.S. has released a statement announcing it is recalling several dry shampoos across different brands.

Retailers have been notified to remove the recalled products from their shelves.

The culprit behind the recall is a potential benzene contamination that was discovered through the company’s own investigation.

The company found traces of this cancer-causing chemical in dry shampoos from brands like Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TRESemmé, and TIGI.All products in question were created prior to October 2021.

This is a precautionary measure in a restricted number of territories and the company said that “an independent health hazard evaluation concluded that levels of benzene detected do not pose a health risk.”

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Unilever recalled these products merely to be cautious, claiming the levels of benzene found in its investigation were not high enough to negatively affect consumers, according to the statement. 

Furthermore, the company added that it has not received any reports of consumers experiencing adverse effects from using its dry shampoos. 

“Following recent reports that indicated traces of benzene in some aerosol spray products, we began a review of our total portfolio of aerosol products,” P&G’s statement read. 

“While benzene is not an ingredient in any of our products, our review showed that unexpected levels of benzene came from the propellant that sprays the product out of the can. 

“We detected benzene in aerosol dry shampoo spray products and aerosol dry conditioner spray products.”

All the affected products are listed in this table from Unilever that also includes each product’s size, universal product code, and lot code.

The statement added: “Our brands will also offer reimbursement for consumers who have purchased products impacted by this recall.

“Consumers should stop using and appropriately discard the affected aerosol dry conditioner spray products and aerosol dry shampoo spray products.”

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What is benzene?

Benzene is considered to be a human carcinogen linked to leukaemia and blood cancer, according to the recall notice.

Inhaling or absorbing the chemical over a long period of time can have serious health effects because it causes cells in the body to work incorrectly. 

Overexposure to benzene can also cause bone marrow not to produce enough red blood cells, which can trigger anaemia or even blood cancer.

Even inhalation of high concentrations in the short term can stir up a slew of adverse effects such as dizziness, headaches, and irregular heartbeat.

The link between benzene and cancer is nothing new as cases of benzene-induced cancer date back to the late 1920s, according to a research paper in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health.

The research states that shortly after benzene was shown to be a carcinogen to “multiple organ sites in both sexes of multiple strains”.

While many people are exposed to benzene through gasoline and cigarette smoke, benzene is not an intentional ingredient in personal-care products.

P&G recognizes in its statement that exposure to benzene can occur by inhalation, orally, and through the skin, leading to cancers and blood disorders.

However, the company stressed that the levels of benzene found in its products were not high enough to negatively affect customers.

Unilever UK & Ireland told Express.co.uk: “The product recall does not apply to the UK. Unilever U.S. and Canada voluntarily recalled select lot codes of dry shampoo produced prior to October 2021 out of an abundance of caution, after an internal investigation identified elevated levels of benzene.

“An independent health hazard evaluation concluded that levels of benzene detected do not pose a health risk.”

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