Lawsuit Investigation: Sun Bum Products Contain Cancer-Causing Benzene
Last Updated on January 3, 2023
Attorneys working with ClassAction.org are no longer investigating this matter. The information here is for reference only. A list of open investigations and lawsuits can be viewed here.
At A Glance
- This Alert Affects:
- Anyone who purchased one of the Sun Bum sunscreen or after-sun care products listed below.
- What’s Going On?
- Several Sun Bum sunscreen and after-sun care products were found to contain benzene, a chemical known to cause cancer and other health problems. Now, attorneys are looking into whether a class action lawsuit can be filed on behalf of buyers.
- Which Products?
- Sun Bum Oxy Free Zinc Oxide sunscreen lotion, SPF 50; Sun Bum After-Sun Cool Down Gel; and Sun Bum After-Sun Cool Down Aloe Vera Spray
- How Could a Lawsuit Help?
- A class action lawsuit could help consumers get back some of the money they spent on the products and potentially force the manufacturer to change how the items are made or advertised.
Attorneys are looking into whether a class action lawsuit can be filed against the maker of certain Sun Bum sunscreen and after-sun care products that were found to contain benzene, a cancer-causing chemical.
Testing was conducted in May 2021 by independent laboratory Valisure LLC, who recommended that 78 products, including a Sun Bum sunscreen lotion, after-sun gel and aloe vera spray, be recalled due to the presence of benzene.
Research suggests that there is likely “no safe level of exposure” to benzene, an industrial chemical that has been linked to cancer and other health problems, and exposure through direct application to the skin is thought to be particularly dangerous.
Benzene Detected in Sunscreen Products
Valisure LLC, an independent laboratory who has been analyzing consumer products for benzene since late 2020, announced in May 2021 that it had detected benzene in 27 percent of the nearly 300 sunscreen and after-sun care products it tested, with some samples containing up to three times the federal limit for benzene in drug products.
The lab’s CEO noted that the presence of benzene, which is specifically associated with blood cancers such as leukemia, in products that are applied to the skin is “particularly concerning” since research has shown that chemicals in sunscreen can be easily absorbed into a person’s blood.
Valisure went on to note that sunscreen is considered a drug product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who has classified benzene as a “Class 1 solvent” that should not be used in drug products due to its “unacceptable toxicity.” When benzene’s use is “unavoidable” to produce a drug “with a significant therapeutic advance,” the FDA limits its levels to 2 parts per million (ppm).
Valisure argued that this conditional limit does not apply to sunscreen since it can be made without the presence of benzene; therefore, any amount of benzene in sunscreen and after-sun care products “should be deemed unacceptable,” according to the lab.
Still, 78 sunscreen and after-sun care products tested by Valisure were found to contain benzene, and the carcinogen was detected in levels greater than the FDA’s 2-ppm limit in 14 of those samples, including the Sun Bum After-Sun Cool Down Gel.
In light of these results, Valisure filed a citizen petition with the FDA calling on the agency to request a recall of the sunscreen products that were found to contain benzene.
Which Products Are Under Investigation?
Valisure detected benzene in the following Sun Bum sunscreen and after-sun aloe products:
- Sun Bum Oxy Free Zinc Oxide sunscreen lotion, SPF 50
- Sun Bum After-Sun Cool Down Gel
- Sun Bum After-Sun Cool Down Aloe Vera Spray
What Are the Health Effects of Benzene?
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, benzene is a known human carcinogen that can lead to acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that benzene causes the cells in your body to not work correctly and can lead to the following health problems, in addition to cancer:
- Anemia, caused by a decrease in red blood cells
- Excessive bleeding
- Immune system damage
- Irregular menstrual periods and a decrease in ovary size in women
- Low birth weights, delayed bone formation and bone marrow damage in pregnant animals
How Could a Class Action Lawsuit Help?
A class action lawsuit could help consumers get back some of the money they spent on the Sun Bum sunscreen and after-sun aloe gel and spray. It could also force the manufacturer to change how the products are made or advertised.
For instance, lawsuits filed against the makers of Neutrogena, Aveeno and Coppertone sunscreens that were found to contain benzene were settled within the past year. As part of the settlements, buyers were provided with vouchers or cash payments, and the companies agreed to make sure their sunscreen is tested for benzene in the future.
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