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December 20, 2021

Procter and Gamble hair products recalled due to presence of carcinogen

The company issued a notice to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday out of an 'abundance of caution'

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Dry shampoo recall Tim Mossholder/via Unsplash

Over 30 types of dry shampoo and dry conditioner sprays have been recalled by Proctor and Gamble after the company detected benzene, a human carcinogen, in the product's aerosol can. Consumers who purchased the specifically impacted products are told to throw them away.

A voluntary recall has been issued for more than 30 types of dry shampoo and conditioners by Proctor & Gamble after experts detected small amounts of benzene in the products, a chemical known to cause cancer. 

The products recalled are aerosol can dry shampoos and can dry conditioners from Aussie, Herbal Essences, Pantene, Waterless, Hair Food and Old Spice brands in the United States. The Old Spice and Hair Food products were previously discontinued, according to Proctor & Gamble. 

While P&G stressed that the amount detected in the products would not be expected to result in any adverse reactions or side effects, the decision to recall them was made out of an "abundance of caution," the company said Friday. 

Benzene, a human carcinogen, is not an ingredient in any of their products, but it can be detected from the use of the propellant at the bottom of the aerosol can. Exposure to benzene can occur through inhalation, through the skin or orally, and can increase the risk of developing leukemia – blood cancer of the bone marrow – and other blood disorders which can be potentially life threatening. 

P&G noted that benzene is "ubiquitous in the atmosphere," and that people are regularly exposed to small amounts in their day-to-day lives. They have not received any reports from consumers of negative side effects associated with the use of these products. 

Thirty-one products with varying production code ranges have been recalled. Consumers who purchased any of these products are encouraged to check the codes – often listed on the bottom of the aerosol cans to determine if their dry shampoo or conditioner is within the scope of the recall. 

The first four numbers of the production code are all consumers need to determine whether their products are safe to use. The full list of impacted products can be found through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

"No other products from Pantene, Aussie, Herbal Essences, Hair Food and Waterless are in the scope of this recall, and such other products can continue to be used as intended, including those aerosol dry shampoo products with production code ranges different from those specifically communicated," P&G said in a statement. 

Retailers who have sold these products online and in brick-and-mortar stores have been alerted to remove them from the shelves. 

Consumers whose products have these specific production codes listed on the packaging are encouraged to discontinue use and throw them away. Reimbursement is available through each brand's individual website. If consumers need any additional information or have questions, they are encouraged to contact Consumer Care at 1-888-674-3631 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Though Proctor & Gamble note that, based on research conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to benzene at the levels detected in these products are not expected to cause adverse reactions, there are some side effects that consumers can watch out for. 

Typical side effects associated with exposure to benzene within minutes to several hours include dizziness, drowsiness, rapid or irregular heartbeat, confusion, tremors and unconsciousness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC further notes that showing these signs and symptoms does not necessarily mean that they were caused by benzene exposure. 

Any adverse reactions can be reported to the FDA's MedWatch reporting program online using this form or by regular mail or fax. 

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