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Why are Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 aerosol sprays being recalled?

The Edgewell Personal Care Company has recalled three batches of the sun spray after finding hightened levels of the chemical benzene in the product.

Banana Boat Sunscreen Spray recalled due to cancer risk
Anadolu AgencyGetty

Connecticut-based pharmaceutical firm Edgewell Personal Care Company have announced a recall of their Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30. The manufacturer has recalled certain batches of the hair and scalp sunscreen spray due to concern that cancer-causing chemical benzene was present in some products.

Benzene is not an ingredient in the spray but their own internal testing found higher-than-expected levels of the chemical in their product. It was present in the mechanism that propels the spray from the can.

Speaking to NPR, a spokesperson for Edgewell said: “Importantly, no other batches of Hair & Scalp (either before or after the impacted production batches) and no other Banana Boat products are in the scope of this recall and may continue to be used by consumers safely and as intended.”

They added: “We are conducting this voluntary recall out of an abundance of caution.”

Which products are affected?

The affected sunscreen spray products have expiration dates for December 2022, February 2023 and April 2024. The spray cans have been distributed all across the United States in physical stores and online retailers.

You can also identify the affected spray cans by looking up the lot code found on the underside of the product. The Food and Drug Administration list the numbers of the recalled products on their website.

Edgewell Personal Care Company has advised that users stop using the products immediately and to safely discard the spray cans. Banana Boat is offering to repay anyone who has purchased one of the affected products. In a statement posted on the FDA website, the brand wrote:

Banana Boat will also offer reimbursement for consumers who have purchased a product marked with one of the lot codes in the table above.”

“Consumers may also visit www.bananaboat.come for more information and to learn how to receive reimbursement for eligible products.”

What are the dangers of benzene?

The chemical benzene is typically colourless and evaporates into the air very easily. It can be formed in organic processes, such as volcanoes and forest fires, and is a natural part of crude oil and gasoline.

It is widely used in the US and ranks as one of the top 20 most used chemicals, by production volume. It’s typically used in plastics, nylon, rubbers and lubricants, but it can be dangerous to humans when consumed in significant quantities.

Benzene can prevent cells from working properly, which can have all sorts of knock-on effects. It can change the blood level of antibodies and damage the immune system; or prevent bone marrow from producing enough red blood cells.

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has found that benzene ingestion can lead to cancer in humans, with long-term exposure linked to leukaemia. For more information on benzene and signs of exposure to the chemical, check out the CDC website.