Old Spice And Secret Sprays Are The Latest Products Recalled Over Benzene

Procter & Gamble (P&G) has announced a major recall involving some of its aerosol spray deodorants sold under the Old Spice and Secret brands, including some Old Spice Below Deck products. This is a voluntary recall initiated due to the presence of benzene, a carcinogen that may cause certain cancers in people who are exposed to high levels of the chemical.

The new P&G recall covers select aerosol Old Spice and Secret sprays sold in the US and Canada. The products were sold online and nationwide at various retailers in both countries, according to the company, which notes that its other products under these brands — including things like gel and solid stick deodorants — aren't impacted by the benzene issue and have not been recalled.

The list of recalled products differs for each country; consumers in the United States can find the full list of recalled P&G products on Business Wire, as well as a separate Business Wire announcement that details the products recalled in Canada. Retailers in both countries have been alerted to the recall and told to remove the impacted aerosol sprays from shelves. As well, consumers in both countries are advised to dispose of the products and can seek a refund via the Secret.com and OldSpace.com websites.

Benzene recalls grow

This is the latest in a growing number of recalls involving benzene. Last week, the US FDA published a recall from Blistex that involved some of its Odor-Eaters antifungal aerosol foot sprays. Numerous recalls over benzene have taken place in the US this year, including one in July from Johnson & Johnson that impacted some of its sunscreen products, and two recalls from Bayer and Coppertone in October due to benzene levels in some of their respective spray products.

Health concerns

Though benzene remains one of the most common chemicals in the United States, steps have been taken to reduce its presence over cancer concerns (via EPA). Over the past decade, the amount of benzene in gasoline, for example, has been reduced under the US's Mobil Source Air Toxics (MSAT) regulations.

Benzene regulations have resulted in the development of new technologies to address the chemical and meet strict thresholds. As detailed on Digital Refining, ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company (EMRE) developed a technology called BenzOUT that uses chemical processes to reduce benzene levels in gasoline. Though other processes exist, ExxonMobil said its BenzOUT technology reduces the cost burden to refineries by addressing the octane and hydrogen losses caused by alternative methods.

As for consumer aerosol products, this latest recall is likely the result of an analysis conducted by a Connecticut company called Valisure. On November 4, Valisure published a report revealing that it had detected "high levels of benzene" in multiple batches of antiperspirant sprays sold under various brands. Among other things, the company said that its analysis found up to nine times the FDA limit for benzene in some of the samples.

Based on the findings, Valisure made a request for recalls in addition to seeking clearer benzene limits when it comes to consumer-level products like cosmetics and body sprays.