Benzoyl Peroxide (BPO) Recall - What You Need to Know - Hypochlorous Acid Alternative

Benzoyl Peroxide (BPO) Recall - What You Need to Know - Hypochlorous Acid Alternative

Public Health Warning: Benzoyl Peroxide (BPO)

Lab results concerning a popular acne treatment  has sounded an alarm among dermatologists, public health advocates, and consumers.

On March 5, independent lab Valisure LLC  issued a  petition with FDA to recall several products containing the active ingredient benzoyl peroxide (BPO.)  The problem? Tests of several skin treatments showed unacceptably high levels of benzene, a known carcinogen. The recall request included the biggest names in Acne treatment:  Proactive, Clinique, Target's Up & UP and Clearasil. See Valisure’s report here:

Benzene is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen—the same category as asbestos and plutonium.  Benzene occurs naturally in crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke. It also occurs synthetically via production of lubricants, detergents, dyes, drugs and rubber materials.

What is the connection between benzoyl peroxide and benzene?   Benzoyl peroxide is approved by FDA and is widely used as topical antiseptic, which is why it’s so effective against acne.  

The trouble starts when benzoyl peroxide is exposed to high heat--even the heat of a steamy bathroom can cause benzene to decompose into benzyne, a dangerous chemical.  Read how the breakdown can happen, according to EHP, a leading environmental research journal:

What are the potential health risks? Long term exposure to even low levels of benzene can harm human bone marrow---where new red blood cells are made. Benzene has been linked to Leukemia, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, MDS, Myelodysplastic Syndrome, Anemia, and reproduction/ fertility problems. 

According to Christopher Bunick, MD, PHD, Associate professor of Dermatology at Yale:

 “There is not a safe level of benzene that can exist in any skin care product, over the counter or prescription.” For the full quote and article, click here:

What happens next? FDA has responded to the petition by stating the need to evaluate the lab’s findings before pulling products from the market.   Class action attorneys, however, have moved much more quickly.

Following the publication of the petition, a law group in LA, Wisner Baum “filed multiple class actions alleging several companies sold benzoyl peroxide (BPO) acne products without warning consumers that they contain unsafe levels of benzene, a potent human carcinogen.”  Read more about the class action suite HERE.

Where does leave consumers in the meantime?  FDA may take months to evaluate the data and issue a ruling. 

For now, experts recommend users of benzoyl peroxide consult their dermatologists for guidance.  And, if concerned, consider less risky ingredients for acne care, like salic acid or hypochlorous acid.