Cancer-causing chemical sparks recall of Banana Boat sunscreen

Photo of Angela Mulka
Banana Boat's manufacturer said the levels of benzene found in the defective sunscreen "would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences."

Banana Boat's manufacturer said the levels of benzene found in the defective sunscreen "would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences."

Photo provided/Edgewell Personal Care Company

Banana Boat manufacturer Edgewell Personal Care Company issued a nationwide recall for three batches of its "hair and scalp" sunscreen after tests found trace amounts of the cancer-causing chemical benzene in the product. 

The Connecticut-based Edgewell Personal Care Company said some samples of the Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 contained the chemical in an announcement submitted to the United States Food and Drug Administration on Friday.

The company said benzene is not an ingredient in its sunscreen spray, but that unexpected levels of the chemical were found in the propellant that sprays the product from the can. The sunscreen sprays were packaged in aerosol cans and distributed across the U.S.

The recalled products had expiration dates for December 2022, February 2023 and April 2024. The affected products can also be identified by a lot code number found on the bottom of the can. The numbers are available on the FDA's site.

"Importantly, no other batches of Hair & Scalp (either before or after these batch codes) 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," the company said in the announcement.

The company has not received any adverse events related to the recall. And it assured consumers the levels of benzene found in the defective sunscreen "would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences."

Long-term exposure to benzene can affect the blood and bone marrow, leading to cancer including leukemia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The company said benzene exposure can occur by inhalation, orally or through the skin.

The company advised customers to stop using the recalled products immediately and properly discard them. The company said Banana Boat is offering to reimburse anyone who purchased these products.