Your Hand Sanitizer May Be Doing You More Harm Than Good

Some hand sanitizers released during the pandemic might contain a cancer-causing chemical.

hand sanitizer
LIONEL BONAVENTUREGetty Images

Have you fallen into the rhythm of pumping sanitizer on your hands every time you touch something outside your house? Well, you might want to take a look at the label. Online pharmacy Valisure, which performs product testing, has found that a number of hand sanitizers may contain a cancer-causing carcinogen called benzene, as reported by Bloomberg.

In case you've forgotten what life was like all those years ago back in March 2020, one of the first things to disappear off the shelves at the start of the pandemic was hand sanitizer. To combat the shortage, a number of brands stepped up to fill the gap in supply — and in the moment, provided a sense of security.

As it turns out, though, that security might have come at a cost. Of the 260 bottles of hand sanitizers from 168 brands that Valisure tested, 17 percent contained detectable traces of benzene. (Eight percent of the bottles tested had small enough traces of benzene that the Food and Drug Administration deemed it tolerable.)

Benzene exposure is linked to an increased risk of developing leukemia and other blood disorders, according to the National Cancer Institute. Cigarette smoke is a common way people are exposed to the chemical.

A full list of the offending hand sanitizers can be found in the petition that Valisure sent to the FDA to get the agency to investigate. Some of the brands include artnaturals, True Wash, Born Basic and Star Wars The Mandalorian, so you might want to toss that Baby Yoda bottle.

hand sanitizer
Manufactured by Best Brands Consumer Products, the Star Wars Mandalorian hand sanitizers were shown to have high amounts of benzene.
Amazon

Valisure points out that many hand sanitizers are gels, and to get a gel-like consistency, brands will add carbomer, which is made with benzene.

If you have any of the brands listed in Valisure's report, it's probably best you throw it out. And remember: hand sanitizer is great for on-the-go use, but it's also important not to forget to regularly wash your hands with good old-fashioned soap.

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