Johnson & Johnson Sunscreen Lawsuit 2021

Last Updated: October 21, 2021

Johnson & Johnson has voluntarily recalled all lots of five types of Neutrogena and Aveeno aerosol sunscreens, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Testing has shown that benzene, a carcinogen, is present in some of the company’s sunscreen products. 

The company has yet to determine the cause of the issue, as benzene is not an ingredient in sunscreen products. Johnson & Johnson has yet to release the levels of benzene that were present in the products. The company also did not specify how many products were affected. 

Aveeno & Neutrogena Lawsuit News & Updates

The Johnson & Johnson sunscreen lawsuit developed within the following timeline: 

  • May 25, 2021 - Independent research lab Valisure announces the discovery of Benzene in Aveeno and Neutrogena aerosol sunscreens
  • July 14, 2021 - Johnson & Johnson voluntarily recalls Aveeno and Neutrogena aerosol sunscreens
  • October 11, 2021 - Judicial panel consolidates sunscreen litigation into a multi-district litigation
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Johnson Johnson Sunscreen Lawsuit

What is benzene and why is it dangerous?

Benzene is a substance that can cause cancer in humans. It has a sweet odor and can be either light yellow or colorless. Benzene’s vapor is heavier than air and can settle in low areas. It evaporates quickly. The substance is less dense than water and will float on top of water and many water-based substances. 

Benzene is produced in nature (as a result of volcanoes, forest fires, and other natural processes), and can be produced as a result of human activity. Many industries use benzene to create other chemicals used in the development and manufacturing of plastics, resins, rubbers, drugs, detergents, and more. 

There are many ways that people can be exposed to benzene. Cigarette smoke commonly results in benzene exposure, as does working in a factory that uses benzene to manufacture products. 

Benzene stops cells from functioning properly. Research shows that benzene can cause the loss of both red and white blood cells. When the concentration of blood cells in the body changes, many problems can occur, including anemia, immune system issues, and leukemia. The way that benzene affects the body depends on many factors, including the length and amount of exposure.

Some effects of benzene take time to appear, while other effects show up soon after exposure.

Immediate signs and symptoms of benzene exposure may include: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Stomach irritation
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Sleepiness
  • Tremors
  • Death 

Signs and symptoms of benzene exposure that may occur over time include: 

  • Bone marrow problems
  • Anemia
  • Reproductive problems in women
  • Low birth weight, bone marrow damage, and delayed bone formation in babies born to women exposed to benzene
  • Leukemia

Johnson & Johnson Sunscreen Side Effects

The amount of exposure and the length of exposure both affect the degree to which a consumer will experience benzene consumption side effects. Side effects from inhaling benzene after spraying aerosol sunscreen are likely to be more severe than effects caused by the sunscreen’s contact with the skin. Some side effects may become apparent right away, while others may take time to develop. 

Possible immediate side effects of using Johnson & Johnson aerosol sunscreen containing benzene include headaches, confusion, a loss of consciousness, and dizziness. If a child would eat the sunscreen rather than inhaling it, possible immediate side effects include irregular heartbeat, digestive problems, and vomiting. Over time, benzene exposure can lead to an increased risk for leukemia.

Neutrogena Sunscreen Recall 2021

Many people may have unknowingly been exposed to benzene as a result of using Johnson & Johnson aerosol sunscreen products, including many in the Neutrogena product line. According to Johnson & Johnson, benzene was detected in samples of these products. The company has yet to release how much benzene was in the products or how many products were affected. Benzene is not an ingredient in sunscreen, and the company has yet to determine how benzene contaminated the affected varieties of sunscreen. 

If you have Neutrogena aerosol sunscreen, you must stop using the product immediately. While applying benzene on the skin carries risks, the risk of adverse effects is much higher from inhaling the product. When applying an aerosol sunscreen, it’s nearly impossible to refrain from inhaling any of the product. 

Johnson & Johnson has recalled Neutrogena aerosol sunscreen products including: 

  • Neutrogena Beach Defense Body Spray, SPF 50
  • Neutrogena Beach Defense Oil-Free Body Spray, SPF 100
  • Neutrogena Beach Defense® aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense Body Sunscreen Broad Spectrum, SPF 60+
  • Neutrogena Invisible Daily™ defense aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer® aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Weightless, SPF 100+
  • Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Weightless, SPF 70
Neutrogena Sunscreen Recall

Aveeno Sunscreen Recall

In addition to the recall of several varieties of Neutrogena aerosol sunscreen, the Aveeno skincare line was affected by the Johnson & Johnson sunscreen recall as well. Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen was also recalled, as benzene was detected in samples of the product through testing run by an independent lab. As with the Neutrogena sunscreens, Aveeno Protect + Refresh is an aerosol formula. Consumers using this formula will inevitably inhale some of the product when spraying it on the skin, increasing the risk of adverse effects due to benzene exposure.

What are the symptoms of leukemia?

If you or a loved one have been exposed to benzene or another carcinogen related to leukemia, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of the disease. If you believe that you may be dealing with leukemia or another cancer, you must see your healthcare provider immediately. 

Some types of leukemia are most common in adults, while others occur more commonly in children. The disease attacks the parts of the body that form blood, including the lymphatic system and bone marrow. Leukemia affects the way your body produces white blood cells. In a person who does not have leukemia, white blood cells work to fight off infection. In a person with leukemia, too many white blood cells are produced, and they don’t function in a way that helps the body. 

Signs and symptoms of leukemia may include: 

  • Petechiae (tiny red spots that appear on the skin)
  • Easy bruising
  • Easy bleeding
  • Tenderness or pain that radiates through the bones
  • Excessive night sweating
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Weakness and fatigue that does not go away with sufficient rest
  • Severe or frequent infections
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged spleen

If you or a loved one have used Aveeno or Neutrogena aerosol sunscreen and are experiencing the above symptoms, it’s important that you talk to a doctor immediately. Leukemia is treatable, and early detection can help improve treatment success.

Is Aveeno & Neutrogena a Class Action Lawsuit or a Mass Tort Lawsuit?

Both class action and mass tort lawsuits allow people who have been harmed by the actions of a company to receive compensation. In a class action lawsuit, all defendants are treated equally and receive an identical payout. In a mass tort lawsuit, each individual circumstance is considered, allowing for various payouts depending on the severity of the plaintiff’s complaint.

Initially, class action lawsuits were filed against Johnson & Johnson, the parent company of Aveeno and Neutrogena. As of October 2021, the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson have been combined into a multi-district litigation, or MDL. An MDL case allows a judge to combine pretrial proceedings for the sake of time and convenience, before potentially separately evaluating each case brought forth by consumers seeking compensation for their injuries.

Aveeno & Neutrogena Lawsuit Settlements

The exact amount of the settlement that consumers who suffered adverse effects after using Johnson & Johnson aerosol sunscreen will depend on court proceedings.

If you believe that you have a case against Johnson & Johnson, you should start working with a qualified legal professional as soon as possible to prepare for the months ahead.

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Neutrogena & Aveeno Lawsuit FAQs

Which sunscreens have been recalled?

Several aerosol sunscreens have been recalled, including:

  • Neutrogena Beach Defense Body Spray, SPF 50
  • Neutrogena Beach Defense Oil-Free Body Spray, SPF 100
  • Neutrogena Beach Defense® aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Cool Dry Sport aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Invisible Daily Defense Body Sunscreen Broad Spectrum, SPF 60+
  • Neutrogena Invisible Daily™ defense aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer® aerosol sunscreen
  • Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Weightless, SPF 100+
  • Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Weightless, SPF 70
  • Aveeno Protect + Refresh aerosol sunscreen

Can benzene cause cancer?

Yes, research shows that benzene is linked to cancer, specifically, leukemia. Ingesting benzene (such as through the use of aerosol sprays) is one of the most dangerous types of exposure to the chemical. 

How much benzene is harmful in sunscreen?

According to Dr. Christopher Bunick, MD, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Dermatology at Yale University, just 0.1 parts per million would be considered a high level of benzene exposure in sunscreen. Dr. Bunick also states that there is no such thing as a safe level of benzene in a sunscreen product. 

Which sunscreens are cancerous?

Independent lab testing has shown that samples of Neutrogena and Aveeno aerosol sunscreens contain benzene, a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substance.

Should I stop using Neutrogena sunscreen?

If your Neutrogena sunscreen is in an aerosol can, stop using it immediately and switch to a new brand of sunscreen.

Is Aveeno sunscreen safe?

Aerosol Aveeno sunscreen is not safe for use due to possible benzene contamination.

Is there a class action lawsuit against Neutrogena?

Class action lawsuits were filed against Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena’s parent company, for benzene contamination in aerosol sunscreen products. The class action lawsuit will now be combined into a multi-district litigation.

Does Aveeno baby sunscreen have benzene in it?

No. Only aerosol sunscreen products tested positive for benzene contamination.

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We are here to help you and loved ones advocate for justice. Feel free to send us any questions you might have, either about an injury or the process for pursuing justice so we can help you exercise your rights.

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