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Christopher Bunick, MD, PhD, Discusses Benzene Contamination in Personal Care Products and Why It Keeps Happening

Article

Aerosolized dry shampoo is the latest personal care product to contain detectable levels of benzene, according to Bunick’s SCALE 2023 session.

Dermatology Times®’ Editorial Advisory Board member, Christopher Bunick, MD, PhD, recently reviewed benzene contamination in personal care products and how the contamination occurs at SCALE 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. Bunick, an associate professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine and a physician scientist, has been closely following benzene contamination in personal care products and works to educate physicians and consumers about the risks associated with using benzene-contaminated products.

Most recently, numerous aerosolized dry shampoo products were found to have detectable levels of benzene. In May of 2021, breaking news struck when benzene was also detected in countless sunscreen products. Valisure, an independent laboratory that provides increased transparency and quality assurance throughout the health care industry, has been at the forefront of testing personal care products for detectable levels of benzene and producing independent reports.

“Going forward, we're going to hear more out of the United States Congress and other regulatory agencies about what to do about the benzene, how to regulate the manufacturing process, and how to improve quality control of the products that we're putting on our skin and in our body,” said Bunick.

Transcript

Bunick: Hi, I'm Christopher Bunick, associate professor of dermatology and physician scientist at Yale University. I'm here in Nashville, Tennessee, at the SCALE meeting, where I just talked about benzene contamination in personal hygiene products.

What I wanted to highlight in this talk is number one, what is benzene? Why is it a carcinogen? And why is it appearing in all of these different personal hygiene products, from sunscreens to hand sanitizers, to after-sun care products to antifungal sprays, to deodorants, and more recently to dry aerosolized shampoos. Why is this happening? So, we talked a little bit about the contamination that's occurring in the manufacturing process. We talked about how different agencies in the United States set limits on benzene exposure because of its high toxicity and carcinogen potential. In fact, benzene is on the same playing field asbestos and lead. And when you think about it, that way, you realize why it's so important to get to the bottom of why is benzene in these products, and how do we eliminate it?

What's really fascinating is that there's movement within the United States Congress to try to investigate further what's happening with this benzene contamination. And I think going forward, we're going to hear more out of the United States Congress and other regulatory agencies about what to do about the benzene, how to regulate the manufacturing process, and how to improve quality control of the products that we're putting on our skin and in our body.

[Transcript edited for clarity]

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