Johnson & Johnson and Costco have reportedly agreed to settle several class action lawsuits brought by consumers who claim that Neutrogena and Aveeno aerosol sunscreen products that were found to be contaminated with benzene put them at risk for cancer and other serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. The sunscreen settlement comes just a few months after J&J announced the recall of several Neutrogena- and Aveeno-brand sunscreen products in mid-summer, revealing that internal testing had identified “low levels of benzene in some samples of the products.” If you or someone you love has been adversely affected by a recalled Neutrogena or Aveeno aerosol sunscreen product, contact Consumer Safety Watch today. The lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson are just now being filed, and we can help you determine whether you are eligible to file a claim for compensation.
The issue with the contaminated sunscreen began in May 2021, when an online pharmacy called Valisure reported that routine testing had revealed the carcinogen benzene in certain Neutrogena and Aveeno aerosol sunscreen products. Since Valisure released its sunscreen report, Johnson & Johnson, the company behind the Neutrogena and Aveeno brands, has been hit with at least eight lawsuits filed in the federal court system, all involving similar allegations that J&J failed to warn consumers about the presence of toxic chemicals in their spray sunscreen products, which could increase users’ risk of cancer. Johnson & Johnson and Costco Wholesale Corporation have agreed to settle at least eight of those lawsuits, according to a notice filed on October 29, 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, where all class action lawsuits related to the benzene contamination in aerosol sunscreens have been consolidated for coordinated pretrial proceedings, as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL).
On July 14, 2021, two months after Valisure released its sunscreen report, Johnson & Johnson issued a press release announcing the recall of all lots of five different Neutrogena and Aveeno aerosol sunscreen product lines to the consumer level. According to the recall announcement, low levels of benzene were detected in some samples of the products during internal testing. “Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen, a substance that could potentially cause cancer depending on the level and extent of exposure,” J&J states in the recall announcement. According to the company, benzene is not an ingredient in any of the recalled sunscreen products. However, the chemical was detected in some samples of the finished products, which J&J says is limited to certain products, including aerosol sunscreens carrying the following labels:
The cause of the benzene contamination is still under investigation. In the meantime, J&J has advised consumers to stop using the recalled sunscreen products and dispose of them appropriately.
Benzene is an industrial chemical commonly used in the U.S. to make other chemicals, including plastics, dyes, detergents, lubricants, and pesticides. According to the American Cancer Society, benzene is known to cause cancer, based on studies in both people and lab animals. Leukemia is the type of cancer most frequently associated with benzene exposure, particularly acute myeloid leukemia, a rapidly progressing blood cancer that starts in the bone marrow. Research has also suggested a link between benzene and other cancers affecting the blood cells, such as acute lymphocytic leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In addition to the class action lawsuits that have already been filed against Johnson & Johnson, it is likely that the company may face sunscreen cancer claims brought by consumers who used the recalled sunscreen sprays and subsequently developed cancer.