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The Benzene In Sunscreen

Recently, the product testing company Valisure published a study on sunscreen and benzene. The study indicated that around 25% of the sunscreens tested contained benzene.  This is of great concern for two main reasons: 1) benzene can be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, and 2) benzene is a known cause of various forms of leukemia, including Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Myelodsyplastic Syndrome.

Of the sunscreens with benzene, 14 contained more benzene than the Food and Drug Administration’s permissible limit (2 parts per million).  The experts we work with believe there is no safe level of benzene exposure.  The benzene was found in the spray sunscreen propellants, as opposed to the actual sunscreens.  12 of the 14 products that exceed 2 ppm were spray/aerosol sunscreens with the Neutrogena or CVS label.  Two others products that contained benzene were after-sun gels made by Sun Bum and Fruit of the Earth.

Current Benzene Litigation

Our law firm currently represents individuals who have been diagnosed with blood and bone marrow cancers after years of exposure to benzene. In most of our cases, we represent tradespeople like mechanics, tanker truck drivers and pressmen who endured years of exposures to benzene-containing products like fuels, parts washers, solvents and inks.

Who Might Qualify for the Sunscreen Leukemia Cases?

The litigation over benzene in sunscreen is only developing.  Linking someone’s leukemia to sunscreen use will not be easy. But we believe that it can be done. To that end, we have developed criteria that will play a part in establishing that link.

A Diagnosis Caused By Benzene

First, a benzene-sunscreen plaintiff must have received a diagnosis that is attributable to benzene exposures.  Benzene has been tied to numerous blood and bone marrow cancers, but the strongest connection is to acute myeloid leukemia (AML), or myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Although other blood and bone cancers may eventually qualify, the initial cases against the sunscreen manufacturers will likely be brought by individuals with AML or MDS.

Proof of Heavy Exposures

The type of work you were doing will be important. Workers who spent a great deal of time in the sun and regularly relied upon spray sunscreens will be plaintiffs.  Anyone consistently applying spray sunscreen for years may have a case.

It will be necessary to show that you were brand-loyal when it came to sunscreen. Purchase receipts, photographs, and store loyalty histories may be needed to prove up your use of a particular manufacturer’s benzene-containing sunscreen.

And bear in mind, the spray sunscreens found to contain benzene arrived on the market in the 1990s. If your era of heavy sunscreen use was in the 1980’s, you won’t have a claim.

Benzene Bio-Markers

Benzene exposures cause damage to certain genes.  Individuals diagnosed with leukemia generally undergo genetic testing to determine which drug therapy is best.  Leukemia patients with markers for benzene will have stronger claims against the sunscreen manufacturers.  If you’ve been diagnosed with AML or MDS, ask your doctor if your cytogenetics or biopsy results show markers for damage attributable to benzene.

Other Factors

Here are a few additional factors that may disqualify or weaken a claim:

  • If there is a family history of blood cancers;

  • If you are or were a heavy smoker;

  • If you were diagnosed many years ago;

  • If you worked with or around any other products that contained benzene, such as solvents, degreasers, gasoline, and other petroleum-based products; or

  • If you have known risk factors such as prior chemotherapy treatment, prior radiation exposure, have other blood disorders, or have certain genetic disorders.

Call 1-800-BENZENE Today to Learn More

We understand that the requirements listed above may seem unrealistic. Unfortunately, since these are novel claims, the initial lawsuits will need to be brought by plaintiffs with strong proofs. If you have a question about benzene as it relates to your leukemia or that of a loved one, call 1-800-BENZENE and speak with a lawyer today.

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