Hand Sanitizer is Now Allowed to Contain Benzene

Hand Sanitizer is Now Allowed to Contain Benzene

Since the coronavirus pandemic started, many products including disinfectants, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, and hand sanitizers have quickly left store shelves and have been hard to find. With so many people not being able to find these products, companies that do not typically make them have stepped up to get the products in the hands of consumers. This helps bring products like hand sanitizer into people’s hands. The problem is regulations can prevent certain products from being sold because they might contain hazardous impurities, but for now, restrictions are being relaxed to allow health products to get into people’s hands.

The Federal government is allowing hand sanitizer to have impurities including benzene because of the coronavirus pandemic. Regulations were tightened in April but have since been relaxed. Hand sanitizer is now allowed to have two parts per million benzene and 50 parts per million acetaldehyde. Different industries have stepped up with their manufacturing of hand sanitizers, and the FDA recognizes the high demand requires some restrictions to be relaxed to allow the protective substance to be mass distributed. People are still having trouble finding hand sanitizer, so any way that hand sanitizer can be brought to these people is great for the public.

Impurities are temporarily allowed in smaller quantities because they can be tolerated for a short period of time and hand hygiene is being prioritized over prevention of cancer. This should allow more people to access hand sanitizer, allowing more people to be protected. Millions of dollars have been invested into producing ethanol specifically for hand sanitizer production with 27 plants making corn-based ethanol. The president of the Renewable Fuels Association does not think that the restrictions will help because he says benzene is not present in the ethanol that it produces.

With everything going on, it is understandable to relax restrictions related to hand sanitizer, but it is still problematic because the impurities are carcinogenic. Benzene is a harmful substance, so if people use the sanitizer to protect themselves and are exposing themselves to carcinogens in the process, it is counterintuitive to allow this type of exposure. People use hand sanitizer multiple times a day, so they could be exposing themselves to carcinogens many times.  If you were exposed to benzene and now have acute myeloid leukemia, you could be entitled to compensation. Use our contact form or call 412-471-3980 to speak with a member of our staff. We will fight for the compensation you deserve.


Zack Budryk, “Trump administration reverses course, will allow impurities in hand sanitizers temporarily” The Hill (June 2, 2020). [Link]


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