The Food and Drug Administration is warning people to stay away from a popular brand of hand sanitizer, following tests that confirmed the presence of carcinogens in some of its products. The products are sold under the ”Artnaturals” label and have been readily available online through Amazon and retailers such as Walmart. The public warning comes after repeated failed efforts by the FDA to get in touch with the California-based company, the agency said.
According to the FDA, the agency had tested certain products sold under the Artnaturals scent free hand sanitizer label and found unacceptable levels of benzene, acetaldehyde, and acetal contaminants. Though the exact risks of using hand sanitizer contaminated with these chemicals are unknown, all are considered confirmed or strongly suspected carcinogens, based on research in animals and humans, and the FDA advises against people using any product with the levels seen in the sanitizers. Unfortunately, benzene exposure is common, as the chemical is readily found in cigarette smoke and gasoline vapors.
“To date, artnaturals has not responded to multiple FDA attempts to discuss the contaminated hand sanitizers, including identification of the manufacturer, possible recalls, and the scope of the contamination,” the agency wrote in its advisory posted this week. “Therefore, as of October 4, FDA is urging consumers not to use any artnaturals hand sanitizers.”
The company sells a wide variety of cosmetic care products in addition to its hand sanitizers. While these other products still appear on for sale on Amazon, Walmart, CVS, and Target, websites, listings for their hand sanitizers now appear to be dead or unavailable. The company’s listings on its own website still appear to be up, with at least one product in stock, as of Friday morning, however.
In an email to Gizmodo, a representative from Artnaturals denied the FDA’s allegations that its products are contaminated with any cancer-causing chemicals and that it was dodging the agency’s attempts at communication.
“We sent several samples of our hand sanitizers to an industry renowned independent cosmetic laboratory for testing. The results show that there are no traces of benzene or any other carcinogens in our hand sanitizers,” the representative said. “We have reached out to the FDA multiple times to resolve these egregious allegations.”
Benzene is naturally found in the environment, but is also used in the manufacture of plastics, synthetic fibers, and even drugs. No level of exposure is thought to be completely safe, and high levels can be acutely toxic, but the FDA does set a minimally accepted threshold for products that incidentally contain it.
This same month, Coppertone recalled five of its sunscreen sprays after finding evidence of benzene contamination in some lots manufactured in January, though no adverse reactions have been reported, according to the company. And earlier this year, independent lab Valisure petitioned the FDA to recall as many as 78 different sunscreen and sun care products after tests found relatively high levels of benzene in them.
Those who have already bought any Artnaturals hand sanitizers are advised to stop using them and to throw them out, preferably in a hazardous waste container if possible. But you shouldn’t pour them down the sink or flush them down the toilet. Anyone who feels they may have been harmed by these or any other hand sanitizers are encouraged to report their case through the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting system.
This article has been updated with comments from an Artnaturals representative. Correction: Previously, this article referenced an FDA “recall”; actually, the FDA issued a safety advisory, not a recall.