Carcinogenic Chemical Found in Deodorant

According to a citizen’s petition filed this month with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), an independent lab has found concerning levels of Benzene, a known cancer-causing chemical, in over half of 108 batches of antiperspirant and deodorant body sprays from 30 different brands.

Benzene should not be used in the manufacture of drug substances or products because it is a class one solvent with “unacceptable toxicity“, according to the FDA.*
*The FDA previously allowed a “temporary” use of benzene in liquid hand sanitizers during the pandemic, setting the upper limit to 2 parts per million.  The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a much lower limit — 5 parts per billion (ppb) — for exposure to benzene in drinking water. The agency has also set a “goal of 0 ppb for benzene in drinking water and in water such as rivers and lakes because benzene can cause leukemia.

More about the Toxic Benzene Chemical

Benzene is created by natural and human-made processes. The chemical, which can trick the body’s cells into not working properly, is also a natural part of crude oil, gasoline and cigarette smoke (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).  According to the National Cancer Institute, exposure to Benzene can be dangerous, by increasing the “risk of developing leukemia and other blood disorders”.  And according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), exposure to high levels of Benzene in the air can cause death, and if you spill Benzene on your skin, it may cause redness and sores.  Benzene in your eyes may damage your cornea.

Testing for Benzene in Deodorants and Antiperspirants

The testing lab Valisure tested the products with the highest levels of Benzene (Old Spice Pure Sport with 17.7 ppm) in a closed bathroom, spraying once under each arm as a consumer would. By doing so, you “could bring the entire bathroom air to 15 times the limit for what the EPA has said is an increased risk for leukemia.
All together the lab tested 24 lots of body spray products from 8 different brands contained between 2.24 — 17.7 ppm of benzene; 14 lots from 8 brands contained detectable Benzene between 0.20 — 1.89 ppm; and 21 lots from 8 brands contained detectable Benzene at < 0.1 ppm.

Why is Benzene in Deodorant and Antiperspirants?

None of the deodorant/antiperspirant products have Benzene as an ingredient, so the only way the chemical could have been introduced is via an error in the manufacturing process — or by the way the chemical is delivered to the body.  Valisure said one possibility is that Benzene could come from ingredients such as hydrofluorocarbon 152a, butane, isobutane, propane and alcohol used to propel sprays onto the skin. But this does not explain the fact that the lab also found high levels of Benzene in non-aerosol deodorant powders and sticks.

Deodorants and Antiperspirants found to contain Benzene at high levels (at or above 2 parts per million)


– The most highly contaminated were found in two lots of an Old Spice antiperspirant called Pure Sport (Lots 11671458SQ and 11671458SB; UPC 012044001912). They contained 17.7 and 17.4 average parts per million of Benzene. (That is nearly nine times the upper limit of 2 parts per million the FDA has set for emergency use.)


Secret Powder Fresh, 24 HR Aerosol (Lots 11721458SG and 11701458SH; UPC 037000711087) had about 16 average parts per million.


-17 different types of Proctor & Gamble’s Old Spice** and Secret** antiperspirant


-Tag, Sure, Equate, Suave, Right Guard and Brut, Summer’s Eve, Power Stick, Soft & Dri and Victoria’s Secret


Other Deodorants/Antiperspirants found to contain Benzene

Valisure scientists also found higher levels of benzene in non-aerosol body odor products, including powders and sticks.

**Deodorants and Antiperspirants already pulled from the marketplace


Old Spice High Endurance AP Spray Pure Sport

Old Spice Hardest Working Collection Invisible Spray Stronger Swagger

Old Spice Hardest Working Collection Invisible Spray Pure Sport Plus

Old Spice Hardest Working Collection Invisible Spray Stronger Swagger

Old Spice Hardest Working Collection Invisible Spray Ultimate Captain

Old Spice Below Deck Powder Spray Unscented

Old Spice Below Deck Powder Spray Fresh Air

Secret Aerosol Powder Fresh Twin Pack

Secret Aerosol Powder Fresh

Secret Aerosol Powder Fresh

Secret Fresh Collection Invisible Spray Waterlily

Secret Fresh Collection Invisible Spray Lavender

Secret Fresh Collection Invisible Spray Light Essentials

Secret Fresh Collection Invisible Spray Rose

Secret Outlast Invisible Spray Completely Clean

Secret Outlast Invisible Spray Protecting Powder

Old Spice Pure Sport 2021 Gift Set

All have an expiration date of before September, 2023