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Cosmetics Firm Disputes Report of Benzene in Hand Sanitizer

ArtNaturals claims its product is free of contaminants after study says high levels of a chemical linked to blood cancers in some hand sanitizers.
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A hand sanitizer maker accused recently of having high levels of a carcinogen in batches of its products is trying to gain the upper hand amid the health scare – even implying it might sue those publications who called out the company.

It all started late last month when a startup pharmacy called Valisure posted a petition that showed its labs found dangerous levels of benzene – which is linked to blood cancers – in more than a dozen brands of germ-killing gels. At the top of the list was a company called ArtNaturals, which had the highest levels, according to Valisure. Several news outlets including Bloomberg covered the report, and some universities, including Harvard and Yale, have since pulled products from their campuses or requested they not be used.

But ArtNaturals wrote to TheStreet this week, disputing the findings, after it posted an update on the study.

“Simply put, the inaccurate article publishing results about our product was 100% wrong. Micro Quality Labs, one of the most prestigious labs in the cosmetic industry, informed us that the status of Benzene is ‘not detected.’ These results establish that there are no detectable levels of Benzene in the ArtNaturals hand sanitizer. I am sure you are not surprised that we are contemplating legal action against any publications stating inaccurate information.”

The company did not answer follow up questions seeking clarification, such whether it tested a recent batch or all batches.

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When TheStreet called Micro Quality Labs twice, a woman who answered the phone said privacy rules prevented her from answering questions related to any of its clients, but did say the lab is capable of testing for benzene.

Valisure, however, said it’s standing by its findings.

“Valisure stands by our testing results, many of which were confirmed by both the Chemical and Biophysical Instrumentation Center at Yale University and Boston Analytics, a GMP compliant lab. It’s important to note that we saw significant batch-to-batch variability even within the same brand, which underscores the imperative need for batch-level testing,” said CEO David Light in a statement.

The Food and Drug administration said it had no comment in addition to what it had told TheStreet earlier, that it takes “seriously any safety concerns raised about products we regulate, including hand sanitizers.”

“While the agency evaluates the submitted citizen petition, we will continue to monitor the hand sanitizer marketplace and manufacturing efforts to help ensure the availability of safe hand sanitizers for U.S. consumers,” said FDA spokesman Jeremy Kahn in an email to TheStreet on Friday.

This story has been updated.