Statement: Johnson & Johnson recalls sunscreen products after tests detect carcinogens

Media Contacts
Danielle Melgar

Former Food & Agriculture, Advocate, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

CLEVELAND — Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. said Wednesday it’s voluntarily recalling all lots of five types of Neutrogena and Aveeno aerosol sunscreen after internal testing showed “low levels of benzene” in some samples. Benzene can cause cancer. J&J also said consumers should stop using the sunscreen. The company said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is aware of the recall.

Seven weeks ago, the pharmaceutical testing company Valisure sounded the alarm about problems with benzene in sunscreens. Valisure sent a 19-page petition to the FDA asking it to recall or issue guidance on 40 different lots of sunscreen under 10 different brands because of significant levels of benzene. On page 12 of that petition, Valisure said batches of several sprays from Neutrogena had tested for more benzene than what it described elsewhere as the “conditionally restricted FDA concentration limit of 2 parts per million (ppm).”

In response, Teresa Murray, U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund’s Consumer Watchdog, said:

“This is another example of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration failing to protect consumers in a timely manner. Here we are, nearly two months after Valisure’s warning, and the FDA still hasn’t taken action. We shouldn’t have to wait for one of the companies themselves to recall potentially dangerous products.

“We’re a month and a half past the big Memorial Day beach weekend that unofficially kicks off summer. How many consumers nationwide have unknowingly been using sunscreen that could cause cancer?

“The FDA has long said it doesn’t have the authority to recall over-the-counter drugs such as sunscreen unless the product label makes false claims. This needs to change. People’s health and safety are at risk every single day.”

Danielle Melgar, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Zero Out Toxics Advocate, added:

“Americans are exposed to far too many dangerous chemicals in everyday products. Consumers should be able to trust that a product they use to protect themselves and their children from skin cancer is safe to use and won’t do the exact opposite —  expose them to cancer-causing chemicals.”


J&J said the affected products are:

  • NEUTROGENA® Beach Defense® aerosol sunscreen,

  • NEUTROGENA® Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen,

  • NEUTROGENA® Invisible Daily™ defense aerosol sunscreen,

  • NEUTROGENA® Ultra Sheer® aerosol sunscreen, and

  • AVEENO® Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen.

Product images and lot information is available on and

The company said adverse reactions or problems stemming from these products may be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program either online, by regular mail or by fax.