Four Lawsuits Launched Over Acne Treatments Allegedly Containing Cancer-Causing Benzene

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The Lawsuits Say Some Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatments Sold By Popular Retailers Contain Benzene, A Known Human Carcinogen.

Consumers who are trying to treat acne might be unknowingly exposing themselves to a cancer-causing chemical, according to a slew of new lawsuits.

Four proposed class action lawsuits filed March 8 by consumers in California and Hawaii courts, allege that various benzoyl peroxide acne treatments sold by L’Oréal, Walgreens, Walmart and Genomma Lab contain the chemical benzene.

The plaintiffs in the suits say the companies knew or should have known that their products contained benzene — a known human carcinogen — and didn’t disclose that fact to buyers.

They’re now seeking damages to compensate them for their financial loss, and potential health risks.

What are the dangers of benzene?

The lawsuits claim that consumers were physically harmed by their exposure to the acne products. Each of the suits references 2023 testing by the independent laboratory Valisure. 

The lab tested a representative sample of benzoyl peroxide acne products and non-benzoyl peroxide products and found the benzoyl peroxide items had “dangerous levels of benzene, many multiple times higher than allowed in any regulated drug,” the lawsuits allege.

“Studies dating to the 1800s have led to a consensus within the medical and scientific communities that benzene exposure, even in low amounts, increases the risk of blood cancers and other adverse effects,” the plaintiffs state.

The suits also allege that researchers “unexpectedly” found that benzene was released into the surrounding air outside the products’ containers even when the packaging and containers were closed. They said this also raised concern for inhalation exposure to benzene. 

Creams, washes and scrubs named in lawsuits

The four lawsuits allege a range of benzoyl peroxide acne creams, washes, scrubs and bars sold by the pharmacies and manufacturers are unsafe. 

“Although the [products] have been found to have benzene, defendant never listed benzene among its ingredients, or anywhere on the products’ labels, containers, advertising or websites,” the Walgreens lawsuit states. 

“Defendant never warned anyone the products had benzene or were at risk of benzene contamination.”

The specific products named in the suits include:

  • L’Oréal’s Effaclar Duo Dual Acne Treatment
  • Walgreens’ Daily Creamy Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Face Wash
  • Walgreens Maximum Strength Acne Foaming Wash
  • Walmart’s Equate Beauty 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Treatment
  • Walmart’s Equate Beauty Acne Facial Cleansing Wash
  • Walmart’s Equate Beauty Daily Acne Control Cleansing Cream
  • Genomma’s Asepxia Acne Spot Treatment Cream

Products are illegal to sell, lawsuits say

Due to the undeclared presence of benzene, the products are illegal to sell and “materially different than advertised,” the lawsuits allege. 

Consumers say the acne treatment sellers mislead the public by representing that the products were safe and by giving the items long expiration dates of two to three years.

Instead, the products degrade into the harmful chemical benzene, the suits say. 

“As a result of the Defendant’s misconduct and consumer deception, the Plaintiff, the Class, the Subclasses, and the public were economically harmed, as they purchased a product that they otherwise would have never purchased,” the Walgreens complaint states. “They were also physically harmed by being exposed to a known human carcinogen.” 

The plaintiffs are looking to represent anyone nationwide who bought any benzoyl peroxide-containing acne creams, washes, scrubs and bars made and sold by Walgreens, Walmart, L’Oréal or Genomma Lab. 

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