What is Benzene and how does it effect your health?
Benzene has been a known carcinogen for decades now. Here are the facts:
- Benzene is a synthetic man-made chemical that is found in gasoline, crude oil and cigarette smoke.
- According to the CDC, Benzene is used in the chemical processing and manufacturing of plastics, rubber dyes, nylon, synthetic fiber, pesticides, detergents and various drugs...
- The Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS] declared that Benzene is a poisonous substance for humans. It causes blood cancers such as Leukemia.
- At high levels, it can cause irregular heart beat, headaches, drowsiness and even death.
- Studies have shown the following effects;
- Benzene harms the bone marrow, decreases red blood cells, increase rates of infection and negatively effects the immune system.
- In women, it causes irregular mensural periods, increases bleeding and decrease the size of ovaries.
- Decreased birth weights and delayed bone formation, in animal studies, when pregnant animals breathed benzene.
What cosmetic products could potentially have benzene?
Benzene is a hidden term in 'Parfum' or Fragrance'. Read more here on the use of fragrance in cosmetic products. Fragrance is used in most consumer products from cleaning products to laundry detergents, make up and alarmingly; baby products.
How to avoid using Benzene?
- Read your labels. The term benzene will not be listed on there. but 'fragrance' or 'parfum' will. Do not buy products that have either of those terms on the packaging.
- Only use natural fragrance that is essential oil based, instead of standard cologne or fragrance. There are a couple great unisex options on the Beauty Doctrine. The Beauty Doctrine's first tenet of 'CLEAN' is that products must have Zero synthetic fragrance.
- Avoid mainstream cosmetics and only use clean brands. Although, not perfect, clean brands have higher standards and make more of an effort in sourcing from reputable suppliers and manufacturers. Most are continuously working on eliminating potentially contaminated toxic chemicals from their formulations.
What are the new findings about Benzene?
It isn't a new fact that benzene is extremely harmful. This has been known for many decades. What is in fact new is the findings recently published by Valisure, an independent lab that studies toxic chemicals and provides certifications for drugs and consumer products.
Valisure was conducting testing for various hand sanitizers, which were found to have benzene. This lead to several recalls. Their research evolved to include nearly 300 batches of sunscreens and after-sun products, from 69 brands, including chemical and mineral formulations. 27% of the batches tested showed unsafe levels of benzene. We're not talking trace amounts. Some formulations had three times the emergency limit set by the FDA.
Why is this alarming? Sunscreen is used by almost everyone, and is reapplied throughout the day. This means that most of us are exposed to benzene in high quantities cumulatively. And what is even more alarming is that the FDA simply says to not use this chemical, and provides no guidance on what levels to test for. Valisure filled a petition with the FDA to urgently look into this issue, provide more regulation. They requested a recall for 40 batches that showed toxic levels of benzene.
You can find the research data, the petition and brands tested here. Some of the tested batches were from brands like Neutrogena, CVS Health, Sun Bum, Fruit of the Earth, Raw Elements Sunburnt, Goodsense, Banana Boat, TopCare Everyday, EltaMD, Ethical Zinc, Baby Organics, Max Block, Solimo, La Roche-Posay, Equate, Aveeno, Up &Up, Walgreens.
Finding and implementing solutions that are proven by science take time. Until then, choosing cleaner alternatives is the best course is action.
Be well. Be safe. Be beautiful!