Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that all of the reports submitted to Health Canada related to the dry shampoo recall were injuries. This has now been corrected.
Health Canada has received more than 100 reports of incidents or injuries related to dry shampoo products that were recalled last month due to the detection of benzene, a cancer-causing chemical.
Those reports can be filed by consumers about injury or death, defective products, damaged property or an issue with product labelling or instruction, but Health Canada did not initially specify how many were under the injury category of report.
In response to a follow-up question from Global News, the agency confirmed Wednesday those 100 reports are all related to adverse effects. However, later in the day, Health Canada said that its earlier statement was “incorrect” and that not all reports were related to adverse effects as some were questions from consumers asking if the product they have was covered by the recall.
Unilever and Health Canada announced the recall on Oct. 18, which included more than 1.5 million units of dry shampoo products manufactured by Dove, Bed Head and TRESemmé. They were sold across the country between January 2020 and October 2022.
As of Oct. 31, the main reported injuries were irritation or allergic reaction, Tammy Jarbeau, a Health Canada spokesperson told Global News on Monday. But not all incidents reported were injuries.
“Due to reports still incoming, the total number of reports and the analysis of types of injury are ongoing,” she said in an emailed statement.
“Health Canada understands that consumers may have used these products in the past and recognize the challenges for consumers in knowing whether they are impacted by the recalled products.”
This is not the first time benzene has been detected in personal care products, such as dry shampoo, deodorants and aerosol spray sunscreens in Canada, prompting a massive safety recall.
Over the past two years, at least 12 recalls have been related to aerosol spray products and elevated levels of benzene, according to Health Canada’s records.
In announcing its recall, Unilever Canada said an internal investigation identified the aerosol propellant as the source for “potentially elevated levels of benzene” in several lots of dry shampoo products.
Unilever Canada said it does not use benzene as an ingredient in its products and the recall was issued “out of an abundance of caution.”
The dry shampoo recall from Unilever was not only limited to Canada. In the United States, products by Dove, Nexxus, Suave, TIGI (Rockaholic and Bed Head), and TRESemmé were also recalled last month.
Benzene is a carcinogen and exposure to the chemical by inhalation or absorption, through the mouth or skin, can result in leukemia, blood cancer of the bone marrow, and blood disorders which can be life-threatening, according to Health Canada.
However, “daily exposure to benzene in the recalled products at the levels detected in testing would not be expected to cause adverse health consequences,” the agency said.
Health Canada is advising Canadians who are concerned about their health after using the recalled products to speak to their health-care provider.