The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning against ArtNaturals Hand Sanitizers after a test confirmed that the popular product contains "unacceptable levels" of chemicals, such as benzene, that may cause cancer.
In a public alert, the FDA urged consumers not to buy or use the product and to throw their hand sanitizer bottles away in a hazardous waste container as soon as possible. The agency also said that their attempts to contact ArtNaturals were left unacknowledged; thus, prompting the warning issue.
Possible recalls could be underway once the company has responded to the FDA. For now, however, the FDA advised against its use but also warned people that they should not dump or flush its content down the toilet or sink.
What is Benzene?
Benzene, a colorless chemical with a sweet scent, is widely used in the U.S. and is naturally formed in the environment. It is commonly found in products like cigarettes and can be emitted by gasoline vapors.
Over the years, studies have shown that high levels of exposure to this chemical have been linked to leukemia and other forms of blood cell cancers, thus the need to regulate its use, per Cancer.Org. Products with more than five percent benzene content are considered hazardous and must have special labels, per the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
It's unclear, however, how much benzene content was in the ArtNaturals hand sanitizers, but the FDA also issued a warning in 2020 against 44 batches of other brands with high benzene content. ArtNaturals was recently added to this list. While there are tests to detect current levels of exposure, there is no way to determine the health effects of benzene in an individual's health because of continued product use.
The FDA also found traces of acetaldehyde and acetal contaminants in ArtNaturals hand sanitizers, which are known to irritate the skin, eyes, and the upper respiratory tract.
ArtNaturals Responds to FDA Claims
A representative of ArtNaturals emailed Gizmodo to deny the allegations, adding that they have not been dodging the FDA's attempt to communicate. The spokesperson said they had reached out to the agency "multiple times" to correct the allegations.
They have also sent samples of their hand sanitizers to third-party independent and industry-renowned laboratories for testing. The test results indicated that there are no benzene and other carcinogens in their products.
According to CBS News, ArtNaturals manufacture their hand sanitizers in China while the products are distributed from a California-based warehouse. The company claimed on its official site that its products are free of toxic chemicals and "all-around bad vibes."
Demand for hand sanitizers increased due to the coronavirus pandemic, prompting many beauty and personal care brands to market their own. However, a lot of these products were found to have carcinogens. The FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that only 60 percent ethanol or 70 percent isopropanol is the most acceptable chemicals in sanitizers but washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is best.
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