A cancer-causing chemical was detected in some P&G products
Consumers often have no idea what lurks inside the substances that they spray. From sunscreens to deodorants, many hazardous chemicals can pollute the environment and sicken people exposed to them. It seems as if we hear about continuous recalls of hazardous aerosol and spray products. The latest company to recall products is Procter & Gamble. The consumer product giant recalled 18 different deodorant sprays after labs detected benzene in the products.
The recalled products include:
- Herbal Essences
- Old Spice
A Partial Recall of Certain Affected Lots
The recall applied only to certain products and specifically provided affected UPC numbers. P&G did not pull all of these products off the market. The company instructed retailers to pull the products from the shelves and offered reimbursements to customers. However, paying people back for a product that they bought and cannot use does not address the risk of prolonged exposure to a dangerous consumer good.
The Health Dangers of Benzene
Benzene is a chemical that is in many industrial products. It is in cigarette smoke and motor vehicle exhaust. Companies might use benzene to make plastics, lubricants, detergents, drugs, and pesticides. In its natural form, it is a colorless and odorless liquid, and it is one of the most prevalently used industrial chemicals in the country, though benzene is not a substance that people should have exposure to regularly.
Benzene is a very dangerous chemical, and it is a known carcinogen. Benzene can lead to leukemia and other types of cancers. Exposed workers have filed lawsuits in the past after they developed cancer from benzene exposure. These lawsuits often resulted in multi-million dollar settlements and jury awards. Recognizing the danger of benzene, the federal government dramatically slashed the amount of benzene exposure that workers can have in the workplace.
What Benzene Can Do to the Body
Benzene exposure has some of the following effects on people:
- It harms bone marrow
- It decreases the number of red blood cells, causing anemia
- It affects fertility and the menstrual cycle
Since benzene affects the bone marrow and blood-forming organs, it often leads to cases of leukemia. In addition, some research also ties benzene to non-Hodgkins lymphoma and multiple myeloma. There is little doubt or controversy when it comes to benzene’s toxicity. Unlike NDMA, there are no arguments and not a shadow of a doubt that this substance is a carcinogen. While the EPA labels other substances as “possibly carcinogenic,” the agency describes benzene as a “known carcinogen.”
Valisure Conducted Tests on Procter & Gamble Products
Valisure is an online pharmacy that is a strong advocate for public safety, and the company tests consumer products and drugs for dangerous substances that can harm people. The company often orders products off the internet and tests them independently.
The company helped to expose the dangers of:
- Ranitidine (heartburn medications)
- Johnson & Johnson talcum powder
- Hand sanitizers
Valisure subjected Procter & Gamble consumer products to their independent tests. The Valisure tests showed very dangerous levels of benzene. The recommended limit for benzene concentration in a product is two parts per million. One sample of Old Spice Pure Sport contained 18 parts per million, an amount that is almost ten times the limit.
Other products had between three and seven times the allowable amount of benzene. These products exposed consumers to hazardous amounts of this chemical every day for years. However, a P&G spokesperson claims that this level of benzene exposure is not enough to cause adverse health effects.
Regardless, Procter & Gamble tested the products on its own, and the results were somewhat consistent with what Valisure found. The company acted to pull the contaminated lots off the market out of caution and to protect itself from product liability lawsuits.
The Scope of the Problem Has Expanded for Procter & Gamble
Right now, the problem is more widespread at Procter & Gamble than just its aerosol deodorants. The company expanded its product recalls to include numerous hair care products. Now, Procter & Gamble has recalled 32 different kinds of aerosol hair products over similar concerns. As a result of the worsening situation, P&G has undertaken a “full review” of its products. Given the pressure and tenacity that Valisure has consistently shown, this may not be the end of the recalls.
For its part, P&G points the finger at the company that manufactures the spray’s propellant. The company claims that benzene is not an ingredient in any of its products (not that it should ever be).
Injured Consumers Can Sue Anyone Involved with Making or Selling the Product
From a product liability standpoint, it is not the consumer’s worry who was responsible for the defect. All the consumer needs to do is file a lawsuit against both P&G and the company that made the propellant, and it is up to the two companies to fight it out amongst themselves about who must pay for the damage. However, this is all easier said than done.
Benzene-Related Recalls Are Not New
These are just the latest products to be found tainted with benzene. Johnson & Johnson initiated a similar recall of a different type of spray product for the same concern, as the company recalled sunscreens that contained benzene.
J&J pulled five different types of Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreen voluntarily after the company’s internal testing found the carcinogen in the product. Currently, attorneys are investigating product liability claims. The company quickly settled consumer class action lawsuits without admitting wrongdoing.
Future Benzene Recalls Are Possible
This may just be the tip of the iceberg for benzene-related recalls. History has shown that once a product has demonstrated a danger, extensive tests on other consumer offerings lead to even larger recalls.
One prime example of this is the NDMA contamination of medications. Once researchers detected the carcinogen in the blood pressure medication Valsartan, numerous other drugs underwent testing for NDMA contamination, and the results confirmed that other popular drugs, such as Zantac, had high levels.
There was a full recall of all Zantac-related products from the market, followed by lawsuits from people who used these drugs and developed cancer. In other words, this may not be the last benzene-related recall that you see.
Benzene Lawsuits Are Coming
Moreover, you can expect more benzene lawsuits in the future as the full extent of the contamination is known. If Procter & Gamble is right that the benzene contamination came from one of their suppliers, this company has used benzene-tainted propellant for years.
P&G is not the only company that used aerosols that contained a carcinogen, and the scope of this problem may be much larger than we know. Valisure may get to the bottom of it, and companies will need to face the consequences.
The FDA does not always have mandatory recall authority, making the problem worse. In the case of benzene, the manufacturers voluntarily initiated the recall, in part to protect themselves against liability. However, some companies may slowly recall their products in the face of known dangers or may resist the FDA.
History has also shown that companies keep tainted products on the market for as long as they can, both to keep making money from them and avoid calling attention to a known concern. Often, plaintiffs obtain emails and other company communications that show that the company knew about the problem for years and still kept selling the product.
You May Seek Financial Compensation
Consumers who used the affected Procter & Gamble products and developed cancer may have the right to seek financial compensation. First, they must consult with a product liability lawyer and file a lawsuit against P&G.
These heavily technical and scientific cases require an experienced attorney. The compensation process can take years, so it is vital to begin now. Lawyers develop evidence over time, and they work with experts to argue why the product was defective.
Plaintiffs began to immediately file class-action lawsuits against Procter & Gamble right after the recalls. Within the first month, there were 17 lawsuits filed, and the number is growing. Given the dangers of benzene and the number of people who used these products every day, you can expect the number of lawsuits to sharply grow. Reports may eventually emerge in benzene cases regarding how these products cause cancer.
If a flood of cases alleges individual harm from benzene-tainted products, multidistrict litigation in federal court may result. The court cases for benzene-tainted products are just beginning. They are in their early phases, and the litigation will take time.
Legal Theories in a Procter & Gamble Product Defect Lawsuit
The plaintiffs are alleging that Procter & Gamble products are defective. Plaintiffs that can show a product defect can hold the defendant strictly liable unless some very limited exceptions apply.
The three types of defects at issue in these cases against P&G are:
- Design defects – There is a flaw to the design that makes the product unreasonably dangerous (not every defect is “unreasonably dangerous)
- Manufacturing defects – There is nothing wrong with the product design, but something went wrong during its production.
- Marketing defects – The company knew or should have known of the defect and took no action to correct it or warn the public about it.
So long as the consumer used the product in the manner intended, such as by spraying an aerosol can, they can recover if they show a product defect.
Even if you cannot prove a product defect, you can also recover financially if you can prove that the company was negligent in designing or selling the product. You must prove that the company acted unreasonably under the circumstances. Finally, you can recover financially if you can show that the defendant violated the implied warranties that you get when you purchase a product.
Even though Procter & Gamble voluntarily recalled the products, one must wonder why it never recalled them until Valisure began testing them. Somehow, P&G wants you to believe that they just discovered the problem at the same time as Valisure and only started to test after it was first brought to their attention by someone else. Although these lawsuits will further develop the evidence, this explanation strains belief. Companies often react this way when they should monitor the safety of their products all along.
Damages in a Product Liability Lawsuit
Meanwhile, those who used any of the affected products and received a cancer diagnosis should consult a product liability attorney. They may file a lawsuit against Procter & Gamble that compensates them for the harm that they endured.
Damages in a product liability case can include the following:
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Loss of enjoyment of life
One can imagine that Procter & Gamble will vigorously defend the lawsuits filed against it since they affect so many of its products. You need a product liability lawyer who will pursue your claim with equal vigor.