Hasner Law | Product Liability | March 3, 2023
Johnson & Johnson is a large multinational corporation that manufactures pharmaceuticals and medical devices, among other products. The company has issued a voluntary recall of some of its sunscreen products because it found benzene, a known carcinogen, in samples of these products. Depending on your exposure to these products and the consequences you suffered, you might qualify to file a claim for monetary damages.
In July 2021, Johnson & Johnson issued a voluntary recall of five of its Aveeno and Neutrogena sunscreen products after it detected small quantities of benzene in laboratory samples. The recalled products include:
- AVEENO Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen;
- NEUTROGENA Invisible Daily defense aerosol sunscreen;
- NEUTROGENA Ultra Sheer aerosol sunscreen;
- NEUTROGENA Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen; and
- NEUTROGENA Beach Defense aerosol sunscreen.
Johnson & Johnson produces these products in various forms, including lotions, gels, and sprays. The recall is comprehensive—it includes all forms, all sizes, and all levels of sun protection. Although the company claims that the amount of benzene it detected does not represent a danger to consumers, it recalled the products out of an “abundance of caution,” according to a company spokesperson.
What Is Benzene?
Benzene is a chemical that manufacturers use in a wide variety of household products, such as detergents, dyes, fibers, plastics, and resins. You can find it in crude oil, gasoline, and even cigarette smoke. Benzene is among the top 20 industrial chemicals in the United States regarding production volume.
Benzene is colorless or light yellow at room temperature. Its odor is sweet, and it is so flammable that it is used in cigarette lighter fluid. It vaporizes quickly, and since it is heavier than air, it sinks to low-lying areas.
The Dangers of Benzene
The Johnson & Johnson recall has left many people worried about benzene exposure risks. In fact, benzene is a chemical with a high level of toxicity. Your body can absorb it by ingesting, inhaling, or absorbing it through your skin. When you consider that the recalled sunscreen products were designed to be applied to the skin, the potential danger is obvious.
Although in modern life, some exposure to benzene is virtually inevitable, long-term exposure (a year or more) can result in:
- Damage to your immune system;
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL),
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), multiple myeloma,
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma; and
- Various other blood cancers
The Johnson & Johnson recall is a significant concern for individuals who have used these products and may have been exposed to benzene. They may have suffered harm as a result of using these products, including various forms of cancer, skin irritation, or other adverse health effects.
Symptoms of Benzene Poisoning
The symptoms of acute benzene poisoning can include one or more of the following:
- Skin irritation;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Irritation of the respiratory tract;
- Irritation of the stomach;
- Burning eyes or blurry vision;
- Pale skin or red spots on the skin;
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat;
- Convulsions; and
Death is possible, but only from very high levels of exposure that are unlikely to result from sunscreen usage.
Your Legal Options
You might have a product liability claim if you have suffered harm from using a Johnson & Johnson sunscreen. You can assert a product liability claim against a manufacturer, distributor, or seller due to a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or inadequate product warnings. In the Johnson & Johnson case, you would probably need to assert a manufacturing defect.
You don’t have to prove that Johnson & Johnson was at fault to win. Instead, you need to prove the existence of a defect that rendered the product unreasonably dangerous. The hardest part of your claim would probably be proving a cause-and-effect relationship between your product use and the symptoms you suffered. For this, you might need to retain an expert witness.
Contact an Atlanta Product Liability Lawyer If You Think You Might Have a Claim
If you suspect that you or someone you love has suffered harm due to using any Johnson & Johnson products that are subject to the recall, you need legal advice immediately. A qualified Atlanta product liability lawyer can review and evaluate your case, advise you of your options, and help you seek compensation if your claim is strong.
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