A Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) alleging Costco sold Johnson & Johnson aerosol sunscreen products that contained benzene, a carcinogen known to cause leukemia, may be resolved under a tentative agreement in a Florida Federal Court. 

After some back-and-forth on where the MDL should take place, those involved agreed to centralize the case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida last month. 

Although terms of the agreement have not yet been released, J&J says that the settlement is in no way an admission of liability or wrongdoing. 

The Neutrogena and Aveeno aerosol sunscreen products were recalled in July after internal testing by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. identified “low levels of benzene in some samples of the products”. This came a few months after Valisure, an online pharmacy, released test results that detected high levels of benzene in 78 sunscreen products and submitted a citizen petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Benzene is a chemical product that is widely used in the manufacturing of plastics, resins, and nylon and synthetic fibers, and is found in crude oil, gasoline, and cigarette smoke. Other than being a cancer-causing chemical, long-term exposure to benzene has been found to cause harmful effects on bone marrow and can cause a decrease in red blood cells, leading to anemia. 

There is growing speculation that many sunscreen products possibly contain carcinogens. The aforementioned test results released by Valisure included products from J&J and a variety of other companies. Another series of tests, conducted by Sorbonne University and Haerecticus Environmental Laboratory, found that a popularly used chemical in certain sunscreen products degrades into chemicals that can cause cancer and endocrine system disruption.

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