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How brand-name sunscreens became contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical and what the FDA is doing about it

The companies recently pulled several sunscreens from market shelves after independent testing had found they were contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical called benzene.
“Exposure to benzene increases the risk of developing leukemia and other blood disorders,” according to the National Cancer Institute.
CVS Health also stopped selling two of its after-sun care products due to similar findings. But other sunscreens and after-sun cosmetics, which also tested positive for the toxin, remain on the market (the full list is below).
The vast majority of tested sunscreens, however, were free of benzene, and experts stress the importance of sunscreen use to protect skin from the aging and cancerous effects of the sun.
“It is NOT a reason to stop using sun protection, which is known to prevent skin cancer. To do so would be like hearing a particular car model was recalled and then committing to never drive again,” dermatologist Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a past president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, posted on Instagram.
How did brand-name sunscreens become contaminated with benzene? Should you be concerned? And what can you do to protect yourself and your family? We’ve gathered answers to these questions and more.

Which sunscreens were recalled?

All batches, or lots, of these four Neutrogena spray sunscreens and one Aveeno spray were voluntarily recalled this week by parent company Johnson & Johnson (J&J) “out of an abundance of caution”:
  • Neutrogena® Beach Defense® aerosol
  • Neutrogena® Cool Dry Sport aerosol
  • Neutrogena® Invisible Daily™ defense aerosol
  • Neutrogena® Ultra Sheer® aerosol
  • Aveeno® Protect + Refresh aerosol
“While benzene is not an ingredient in any of our sunscreen products, it was detected in some samples of the impacted aerosol sunscreen finished products,” J&J reported in a statement. “Consumers should stop using these specific products and appropriately discard them.”
Specific lots of all recalled Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreens can be found here, and customers can call with questions and request a refund by completing this form, or calling 1-800-458-1673.
CVS also stopped selling CVS Health After Sun Aloe Vera and CVS Health After Sun Aloe Vera Spray a day after the Johnson & Johnson recall was announced.
Mike DeAngelis, senior director of CVS Health’s corporate communications, told CNN the company is “cooperating with Johnson & Johnson’s voluntary recall.”
He said that “CVS products have not been recalled,” but the company has paused sales of the two CVS products, which tested positive for benzene, “out of an abundance of caution.” CVS Health is working with the supplier of the products to “take appropriate additional steps,” he added.
However, one of the CVS products on the list of benzene-contaminated products, After-sun Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel, “is still for sale,” DeAngelis said.

Why were the sunscreens recalled?

The voluntary recalls and pause in sales came after an independent lab tested 294 samples from 69 brands of sprays, lotions, gels and creams designed to protect the skin from the sun or care for the skin after sun. Of those, 78 samples tested positive for benzene.
Contamination appeared in specific batches of sunscreen, rather than a specific brand, said David Light, CEO and founder of Valisure, the independent lab that ran the tests.
“The finding of benzene in sunscreen was certainly surprising to me as a scientist and a consumer. I’m quite a heavy user of sunscreen myself; I have five kids and we all use sunscreen, so it was rather concerning to find such high levels,” Light said.
Multiple samples contained “significantly detectable benzene and some batches contained up to 3.1 times the conditionally restricted limit,” according to the citizen petition asking for action that Valisure filed with the US Food and Drug Administration.
“We petitioned the FDA to recall or to request recalls of the products that are 0.1 per million and above,” Light told CNN. “It’s obvious that we shouldn’t be taking that risk, and we just wanted it cleaned up.”
Samples of three of the recalled Neutrogena spray sunscreens — Beach Defense, Invisible Daily and Ultra Sheer — and one CVS brand — After-sun Aloe Vera Soothing Spray — had levels of benzene that were 2 parts per million or higher, according to Valisure’s tests.
Another spray, Neutrogena’s Cool Dry Sport, and CVS Health’s After-sun Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel, tested at .01 to 2 parts per million of benzene in some samples.
Aveeno’s Protect + Refresh aerosol, which was the fifth sunscreen recalled by J&J, was not tested by Valisure.
“We did not have the chance of acquiring any of the Aveeno sprays, but it certainly sounds like Johnson & Johnson’s own internal testing confirms our overall concern with benzene in the sunscreens,” Light said.
According to J&J, daily exposure to benzene in these sunscreen products “at the levels detected in internal testing would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences.”
“There is not a safe level of benzene that can exist in sunscreen products,” said Dr. Christopher Bunick, associate professor of dermatology at Yale University, in Valisure’s press release. “Even benzene at 0.1 ppm (parts per million) in a sunscreen could expose people to excessively high nanogram amounts of benzene.”

Which products were not recalled?

Samples of Eco Formula Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30, Advanced After-Sun Gel by Sun Burst, Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 by SunBurnt, Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 by Goodsense, Ultimate Sheer Sunscreen Lotion SPF 70 by TopCare Everyday, and UV Aero Broad-Spectrum Full-Body Sunscreen Spray, SPF 45 by EltaMD all tested for benzene at levels of 2 parts per million or higher.
Samples of three Banana Boat products also contained levels of benzene at those levels: Kids Max Protect & Play Sunscreen C-Spray SPF 100, UltraMist Deep Tanning Dry Oil Continuous Clear Spray SPF 4 and Ultra Sport Clear Sunscreen Spray SPF 100.
To date, CNN was not able to verify that any of these products have been recalled following Valisure’s request to that effect to the FDA.
The sunscreens tested by Valisure were only a tiny sample of the more than 11,000 registered sun care products on the market.
The Personal Care Products Council, an industry association, said its members were “firmly committed” to providing products with “ingredients that have been thoroughly tested for safety and follow the requirements of the law.”
“We are aware of the study reporting the presence of benzene in some of the sunscreen products tested,” the council said in a statement. “There is nothing more important than safety. If our consumers can’t believe in a product or rely on it to do what it says, then nothing else matters.”

What is benzene?

Benzene is a natural component of crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke and ranks in the top 20 chemicals used for production of “lubricants, rubbers, dyes, detergents, drugs, and pesticides,” as well as “plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers,” according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
At room temperature, benzene is a colorless or light yellow liquid with a sweet odor. Highly flammable, it will float on water, and while it evaporates quickly, it is heavier than air and can sink into low-lying areas, the CDC noted.
Gas emissions from volcanoes and forest fires are natural sources of benzene, but the largest sources are emissions from burning coal and oil, motor vehicle exhaust, and evaporation from gasoline service stations, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
Exposure to high levels of benzene in the air can cause death, the ATSDR says, but the impacts of eating foods or drinking liquids containing lower levels of benzene are not known.
“If you spill benzene on your skin, it may cause redness and sores. Benzene in your eyes may cause general irritation and damage to your cornea,” the ATSDR said.
Cigarette smoke and off-gassing from furniture wax, detergents, glue and paint are sources of indoor exposure to benzene, according to the CDC, while outdoor air can be polluted with benzene from “gas stations, motor vehicle exhaust, and industrial emissions.”

How did benzene get into sunscreens?

No one knows for sure how the toxin ended up in sun care products. Benzene was not an ingredient in any of the sunscreens, so experts suspect contamination had to have occurred during the manufacturing process.
“There are a lot of theories,” said Scott Faber, the senior vice president of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit consumer health advocacy group which puts out a yearly guide to safe sunscreens.
“Benzene could be a byproduct of the process of making the chemicals that companies sell to the formulators of personal care products and sunscreens. Or it could be that some of those chemicals break down into benzene, although that seems less likely,” Faber said.
“But it’s very alarming, especially since the FDA does not require companies to test ingredients for contaminants, nor does it require testing for such chemicals at a finished product stage,” he added.

What is the FDA doing?

In response to Valisure’s petition, the FDA told CNN that it “evaluates and assesses the information provided in citizen petitions of this type and, generally, initiates an independent testing and verification process.”
“While the FDA evaluates the citizen petition submitted by Valisure, we will continue to monitor sunscreen manufacturing and marketing to help ensure the availability of safe sunscreens for U.S. consumers,” an FDA spokesperson said.

How can I tell if my sunscreen is contaminated?

Because the contamination was sporadic and likely occurred accidentally, there is no way for consumers to look at a label and choose a product without benzene, Faber said.
“Sadly, consumers are screwed. There’s no way to shop around this problem,” Faber said, adding that consumers can petition for new regulations to more thoroughly test consumer care products for toxins and contaminants.
“People can tell the FDA to require over-the-counter sunscreen product companies to test for contaminants like benzene, and people can tell Congress to pass laws to modernize cosmetics safety laws,” he said.
Valisure has committed to testing additional sun care products as they have space in their lab schedules, and it is encouraging people to send in sunscreens and sun care products they have purchased to be analyzed.
If you’re interested in having your sunscreen tested in their crowdsourcing study, the full instructions on how to package and send your product can be found here.

How can I protect my family?

Benzene is not the only concern when it comes to sunscreen. A number of sunscreens have been shown to be ineffective or contain chemicals that can enter the bloodstream and disrupt hormones. In EWG’s 2021 guide to sunscreens, they analyzed over 1,800 products and found that 75% did not provide adequate sun protection — or included ingredients linked to harm. Still, there were over 200 products that did meet their safety standards.
All of this uncertainty may leave consumers unsure of what to do, and experts worry some may forgo the use of sunscreen altogether. But, experts warned, that’s an even worse idea. Melanoma, one of the most deadly forms of skin cancer, has been on the rise globally for decades. And while survival rates are getting better, melanoma is still the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States.
And of course, it’s always a great choice to use common sense practices as well to protect your skin from harmful rays. Wear shorts, shirts, pants and hats to help block dangerous rays and apply safe sunscreens to exposed skin. Wisely choose your time in the sun by avoiding the most intense rays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and seek shade whenever possible.

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Bangkok Chemical Fire: 2nd Factory Blaze in Thailand’s Capital Highlights Health Risks

Chemicals at a factory just outside the Thai capital burst back into flames briefly on Tuesday, sending up another cloud of toxic black smoke and highlighting the continuing health danger from an industrial accident that killed one and injured dozens more.

Extinguishing the first blaze took more than 24 hours after it started with an explosion about 3 a.m. Monday that could be heard for kilometers (miles) and blew out the windows and doors of nearby homes.

Firefighters continued to douse the site with water and foam to keep the highly flammable chemical styrene monomer from reigniting, but flames broke out again and burned for about an hour Tuesday afternoon.

Little was left of the Ming Dih Chemical factory other than the twisted metal frames and charred remains of its warehouses that were destroyed in the explosion and fire.

More than 60 people were injured in the disaster, including a dozen emergency responders, and more than 30 of them were hospitalized. An 18-year-old volunteer firefighter was killed in the blaze.

Police questioned the factory manager in their investigation of the cause of the explosion, who told them that he and eight staff members were woken from their sleep on the site by a strong chemical smell and fled just before the blast, said Maj. Gen. Chumpol Poompuang, the district’s police commander.

Authorities ordered a 5-kilometer (3-mile) area around the foam and plastic pellet manufacturing factory, near Bangkok’s main airport, evacuated as the factory burned, telling residents to avoid inhaling any fumes and warning that they could cause dizziness and vomiting, and cancer in the long term.

On Tuesday, Attapol Charoenchansa, who heads the countrys pollution control department, said teams were testing the air quality and water in the area of the factory, and were considering narrowing the evacuation zone to allow some residents to return home.

He cautioned, however, that rain which fell Tuesday afternoon could wash the chemicals into water sources, which would be difficult to control.

ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights, a regional advocacy group, urged the Thai government to provide the public with more information on the chemicals that had been released, as well as all of its findings on possible contamination.

It also stressed that firefighters and others working at the scene, many of whom wore only the masks required by the government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or none at all as they battled the blaze, had to be outfitted with better protective equipment during the cleanup.

Now is the time to understand what the impacts of the fire and explosion might be, and ensure that all those still operating in the vicinity are adequately protected, said group member and Philippine lawmaker Sarah Elago.

Seeing firefighters with surgical masks fighting against potentially cancerogenic chemicals was an atrocious sight. The government should urgently provide adequate material for all those still at risk, she said.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered authorities to gather as much information as possible on contamination of soil, ground water, the city’s drinking water and air so as to mitigate the health impact in both the short and long term.

Although the fire is under control, our work has not yet been completed, he said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Officials said shockwaves from the initial explosion damaged about 100 houses and 15 cars.

It wasn’t clear how much monetary damage the fire caused to the factory.

Styrene monomer is used in the production of disposable foam plates, cups and other products, and can produce poisonous fumes when ignited.

The chemical itself also emits styrene gas, a neurotoxin, which can immobilize people within minutes of inhalation and can be fatal at high concentrations. Last year in the Indian city of Visakhapatnam, a leak of styrene gas from a chemical factory killed 12 people and sickened more than 1,000.

The area around the Thai factory is a mixture of older industrial complexes and newer housing developments that were built after the opening of Suvarnabhumi Airport in 2006.

A fire at another factory broke out Tuesday evening in eastern Bangkok, with no casualties reported, said Bangkok Gov. Aswin Kwanmuang. The cause of the fire at the Floral Manufacturing Group Co. in the Lat Krabang Industrial Estate was not immediately known.

It was put under control, though not totally extinguished, after several hours. No highly toxic chemicals were involved.

Veeris Ammarapala, governor of the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand, was quoted by the Bangkok Post news site as saying the fire spread quickly because of the large quantities of alcohol on hand used in making perfumes, shampoo and hand sanitizer. He said his agency needs to review fire protection measures for industrial estates.

sourced – News 18

Author: Shyamal Sinha
Read more here >>> The European Times News

Blood pressure pills recalled after discovery of explosive chemical that causes cancer

In a dramatic turn of events, health chiefs have recalled dozens of blood pressure pills that are deemed to pose a grave public health risk. The drugs in question — several different types of irbesartan and losartan – have been recalled from pharmacy shelves because they contain azido-tetrazole. The substance is considered by some health experts to be the world’s most explosive chemical and is linked to a heightened risk of cancer.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – the UK’s drug oversight body – said the explosive substance is found in batches of the aforementioned blood pressure pills.

At this stage, the recall is merely precautionary and there was no proof it has caused any harm to patients, the MHRA said in a statement.

The health body urged Brits to not stop taking the drugs without consulting their GP because suddenly stopping can be pose health risks.

Some of the contaminated pills have been on the market for nearly two years, it was also revealed.

READ MORE: High blood pressure: The surprising food increasing your risk of hypertension

As the Mail Online reports, the latest development follows a series of drug recalls of sartan-type medicines, which may have been exposed to cancer-causing chemicals in factories in China and India.

Irbesartan and losartan are prescribed to millions of Britons with high blood pressure every year.

Commenting on the decision, Dr June Raine, MHRA Chief Executive, said: “Patient safety is our watchword. We’re recalling batches of certain sartan-containing products as a precautionary measure while we continue our investigation. It’s important that healthcare professionals check their stock to quarantine and return these batches.

“If you’ve been taking one of the affected products, speak with your doctor or pharmacist before stopping any treatment – they can address any concerns and can advise you on the best course of action.”

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According to Public Health England, previous recalls of these types of products in 2018 and 2019 are part of an ongoing investigation.

The MHRA also said it is working with other medicines regulators on this issue.

There is currently no evidence any of the pills have exploded.

The MHRA said the move only applied to pharmacies and wholesalers stocking the 31 batches supplied by Bristol Laboratories Limited, Brown & Burk UK Limited and Teva UK Limited, some of which were first distributed in September 2019.

It is important to note that other blood pressure pills containing losartan and irbesartan are still available.

Dr Raine of MHRA also issued important advice if you’re taking the affected blood pressure pills or stocking them.

She said: “It’s important that healthcare professionals check their stock to quarantine and return these batches.

“If you’ve been taking one of the affected products, speak with your doctor or pharmacist before stopping any treatment – they can address any concerns and can advise you on the best course of action.”

The health risk posed by the substance azido-tetrazol was alerted to the world by Cambridge University chemical scientist Dr Ljiljana Fruk.

Dr Fruk described azido-tetrazole as the the world’s “most explosive chemical” in 2019.

Speaking on the The Naked Scientists radio show at the time, she said: “So the most explosive chemical was made in 2011 in the lab.

“[It] Never went out of the lab, it was made in a special chamber and it’s called azido-tetrazole.

“So that’s a molecule that has 14 nitrogens in its own structure, and because of these constrained nitrogen bonds it’s very explosive.”

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Health Feed
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Tesco and Asda urgently recall contact lens solution over chemical fault – ‘bring it back’

A product recall is issued when there is a discovery made about a certain product that is deemed unsafe to the consumer. The latest recall comes from Tesco and Asda who are recalling certain contact lens solutions. 

The company said the recall was voluntary.

In a separate recall, Asda also issued a warning about Bausch + Lomb products.

The supermarket said: “There is a low risk of infection with these products, Bausch + Lomb has chosen to voluntarily recall potentially impacted batches of product because they cannot confirm their bottle suppliers conformance to its sterilisation process compliance requirements.”

Products sold in Asda being recalled:

– Renu (product lot numbers: MPS ME3025, ME3025, MF1594)

– Boston Conditioner (product lot number: MD1926, MD2511, MD2639, MD3209, MD4221, MD4368, ME2978, MF0511, MF0682, MF1170)

– Boston Cleaner (product lot number: MF0104, MF0679, MF0680, MF1593, MF2110)

“Instead, return it to a Tesco store, and we’ll give you a refund. No receipt is required.”

Customers should look for the best before dates up to and including May 2022.

Morrisons is also recalling certain batches of the quinoa puffs including the Mediterranean, white cheddar and quinoa kale puffs jalapeno and cheddar flavours. 

Again, the best before dates being recalled are all dates up to and including May 2022. 

The supermarket said: “No other products are affected by this issue. Eat Real apologise for the inconvenience this may cause and assure customers of their continuing commitment to the highest standard of product quality and safety.”

Author:
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Life and Style Feed
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Houston truck driver files lawsuit against company at center of Channelview chemical fire

CHANNELVIEW, Texas (KTRK) — A Houston truck driver is filing a lawsuit after a massive chemical fire burned for hours at a transit facility in the Channelview area last week.Houston attorneys Benny Agosto Jr. and Ben Agosto III said they filed the suit on behalf of Antonio Alvarez on Tuesday against K-Solv, the company that controls the facility of the fire.

K-Solv provides environmental protection, disaster services and chemicals to the petrochemical industry. The company is said to be a transit facility, meaning that they don’t manufacture products at that location, but rather accept and ship chemicals.

READ ALSO: Massive fire burning at facility in ChannelviewMassive flames shot out of the K-Solv warehouse on Lakeside Drive around 4 p.m. last Wednesday. According to the fire marshal’s office, known chemicals on site included, but were not limited to, hydrochloric acid, acetone, ethanol, ethylene dichloride, and other acids.

After monitoring air and water quality levels the following day, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said it did not find any areas of concern.

READ ALSO: Chemicals that burned in massive fire in Channelview still not yet known

Alvarez’s attorneys said the driver, at the time of the fire, was at the facility to make a drop-off and pick up a product. When the fire went off, Alvarez ran and stumbled to the ground as he was trying to get away, according to attorneys. He reportedly sustained “substantial injuries and trauma.”

“As sequential explosions rang out, Mr. Alvarez made it to a high fence that he and other facility contractors squeezed and pressed against, while trying to scale it to escape the facility,” read a statement issued by Alvarez’s attorneys.Alvarez and other workers say they found a ladder and climbed over the fence.

SEE ALSO: Residents say industrial facility fire in Channelview sounded like explosion

“Mr. Alvarez was able to escape the facility and successfully board the vessel but not without sustaining substantial injuries and trauma as a result of the chaos and destruction following the fire,” the statement continued.

Alvarez was reportedly hospitalized shortly after and was treated for injuries to his lungs, neck, shoulders, and back.The lawsuit claims K-Solv was negligent, did not create and/or enforce safety rules and guidelines, provide timely assistance or warned anyone of a known hazard. The amount Alvarez is seeking was not disclosed.

Eyewitness News has reached out to K-Solv for a response but has not received one.

This is not the first time the company has experienced a fire. In 2007, the company experienced a similar incident that reportedly injured one of its employees.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.

KTRK

This article originally appeared on ABC13 RSS Feed

Liza Minneli's surprise appearance on My Chemical Romance album The Black Parade

The Academy Award-winning actor, Liza, turns 75-years-old tomorrow, March 12, 2021. As the daughter of Hollywood icon, Judy Garland, Liza grew up on film sets and had talent in her blood. The star released her first album, Liza! Liza!, in 1964 aged 18 and continued to release music until 2010. In 2006 the star took a chance on up-and-coming emo-rock band My Chemical Romance, whose third album, The Black Parade, was in need of a female vocalist.
The Black Parade’s ninth track, Mama, continued with the album’s theme of war and death, telling of a boy writing home to his mother from the trenches.

Gerard, the lead singer of the band, wanted a female singer who “had a lot of character, someone that was very strong, sorrowful”.

Emotional is what the band received, with Liza crying and sobbing over the song’s outro.

Liza also sombrely yelled over Gerard’s voice, crying the lyrics: “And if you would call me a sweetheart, I’d maybe then sing you a song.”

As a life-long fan of Minnelli, Gerard pitched bringing her on board to his producer while recording the song in early 2006.

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Gerard told The New York Times in 2019: “I love Liza Minnelli. The Black Parade was very theatrical, and we had this song, Mama, and I said: ‘You know, it would be really great in this one part to get Liza.’

“Rob Cavallo, the producer, made a couple of calls and she said she would love to do it.”

The singer explained Liza was patched in remotely from New York and recorded the session in one take.

Gerard added: “It was really cool. The first time I got to speak to her was through the mixing board.”

Liza also “didn’t charge” the band for her time on the record, despite being part of Hollywood royalty.

Not only has Liza won an Oscar for Best Actress from her performance as Sally Bowles in 1973’s Cabaret, she has also won an Emmy.

During the same year Liza won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Program – Variety and Popular Music for her TV gig Liza with a Z – A Concert for Television.

Just over ten years later, in 1983, the singer won a Golden Globe for Best Actress from playing Mary-Lou Weisman in hard-hitting TV drama A Time to Live. The film showed Liza giving her all in a story which involved a family dealing with their son’s death.

Liza also delved into the realm of sitcom when she joined FOX show Arrested Development as Lucille Austero for 21 episodes.

Throughout her acting career, the actor has consistently delivered albums showcasing her musical talent.

Her latest release was in 2010 with Confessions, which she recorded while recovering from knee surgery.

The star had her knee replaced in 2009 at the age of 64, following a previous hip replacement which took place a few years earlier.

SOURCE