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Unilever recalls dry shampoos because of potentially high levels of benzene

Benzene is a known carcinogen. Exposure to elevated levels of the chemical can raise the risk of some cancers and blood disorders.
Unilever United States issued a voluntary product recall of select lot codes of dry shampoo aerosol products produced prior to Oct. 2021 from Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI (Rockaholic and Bed Head), and TRESemmé due to potentially elevated levels of benzene.
Unilever United States issued a voluntary product recall of select lot codes of dry shampoo aerosol products produced before October 2021 from Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI (Rockaholic and Bed Head) and TRESemmé because of potentially elevated levels of benzene.Unilever / FDA

Unilever is recalling 19 dry shampoo products because of potentially elevated levels of benzene, a known carcinogen.

In a company announcement published on the Food and Drug Administration website on Friday, Unilever United States said the recalled products were all made before October 2021. They include dry shampoos from the brands Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TRESemmé and TIGI, which makes Rockaholic and Bed Head. A complete list of recalled products can be found here.

All of the affected items are aerosol sprays. According to the company's statement, an internal investigation identified the propellant as the source of the benzene.

"Unilever has worked with its propellant suppliers to address this issue," the company said.

Unilever first announced the recall on its website on Oct. 17.

Benzene is a chemical that can occur naturally in the environment — it is found in crude oil and gasoline, for example — and it is also used to manufacture some types of lubricants, dyes, detergents and pesticides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Benzene can also be used to make other chemicals that are in turn used to make plastics, resins and synthetic fibers.

Exposure to high doses of benzene, orally or through the skin, can raise the risk of certain cancers, including leukemia, as well as anemia and other serious blood disorders.

Other aerosol products have been recalled in the past because of the presence of benzene, according to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. That list includes some Old Spice and Secret deodorant sprays, which were recalled in November, and some Pantene and Herbal Essences hair products recalled in December. A recent study also found that benzene commonly leaks from gas stoves in California.

Unilever said it has not received any reports of adverse reactions to the recalled products; rather, they are being recalled out of caution.

The affected items were distributed nationwide in the U.S., so retailers have been notified to remove any remaining unsold products from shelves, Unilever said.

The company could not be immediately reached for additional comment.

Unilever is directing consumers to a website set up in connection to the recall for instructions on how to receive reimbursements for eligible products.

Adverse reactions to the products, meanwhile, can be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online, by mail or by fax.