A proposed class action claims the labels of certain Banana Boat sunscreens have failed to disclose that the products contain benzene, a known human carcinogen.
The lawsuit is at least the second to be filed after analytical pharmacy Valisure filed a citizen petition asking the FDA to recall dozens of sunscreens that were found to contain benzene in levels known to be harmful to humans.
According to the lawsuit, defendants Energizer Holdings, Inc.; Edgewell Personal Care Company; Edgewell Personal Care Brands, LLC; Edgewell Personal Care, LLC; Playtex Products, Inc.; and Sun Pharmaceuticals, LLC have violated state and federal law by failing to disclose on their products’ labeling the presence of benzene in the sunscreens.
“Because Defendants did not disclose benzene, a known human carcinogen, may be present in the Sunscreen Product purchased by Plaintiff and the putative class members, the Sunscreen Product are adulterated and misbranded,” the complaint alleges.
The lawsuit claims the Banana Boat sunscreens are unsuitable for human application given there is, according to the World Health Organization, “no safe level of benzene” exposure.
The case centers on a May 2021 citizen petition filed by Valisure after the firm conducted testing on various sunscreen products, including Banana Boat sprays and lotions. Per the suit, Valisure’s testing revealed that certain Banana Boat products contained benzene in amounts ranging from less than 0.1 ppm (parts per million) to 2 ppm. For reference, the lawsuit notes that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends that workers expecting to be exposed to benzene in concentrations of 0.1 ppm wear protective equipment and defines “skin absorption” as an exposure route.
Note: The list of products found by Valisure to contain benzene can be found on pages 12 through 15 of the citizen petition. The list of products found to not contain benzene can be found here.
Benzene, according to the lawsuit, is a component of petroleum and has been “found to be carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Moreover, the FDA has classified benzene as a “Class 1” solvent that should be “avoided,” the suit says.
The case notes that since sunscreen is regulated by the FDA, there are certain levels of acceptable active ingredients in products that are labeled as sunscreen. Per the suit, benzene is not on the FDA’s list of acceptable active or inactive ingredients and is not even identified as an ingredient on any of the Banana Boat products’ labels. Thus, the defendants’ marketing of the Banana Boat sunscreen products is “false and misleading” given the sunscreens are not “safe for [their] intended use,” the lawsuit alleges.
The case further claims because the Banana Boat products are not “generally recognized as safe and effective,” they are misbranded or adulterated under federal and California state law.
The complaint notes that as of June 17, 2021, the FDA has not responded to Valisure’s petition and the defendants have not taken any action to recall the sunscreen products or remove them from the market.
The lawsuit looks to represent anyone who purchased any Banana Boat lotion or spray sunscreen product in the U.S. and its territories (excluding California) anytime since June 17, 2017 for personal use or consumption.
Alternatively, the case looks to cover those in the above category who purchased the products in Florida.
Importantly, the proposed classes exclude those who allege bodily injury resulting from their use of the Banana Boat products.
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