October 21, 2012
Banana Boat Sunscreen Could Burst Into Flames, Burn Skin
April Flowers for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Remember those adorable, and slightly creepy, Coppertone ads that started in the 1950s? They starred a little girl with a dog pulling her bathing suit to reveal a starkly white bottom. Would they have been as cute, or effective, if the little girl was on fire?
Consumers are asking that question about the Banana Boat product recall for suntan lotions. Energizer Holdings (ENR), the parent company of Banana Boat, announced Friday that certain sunscreen sprays may potentially burst into flames on the user's skin if they come into contact with a flame before the spray is completely dry.
The recall is voluntary and Energizer Holdings has ordered retailers not to sell the sprays. They have also notified the Food and Drug Administration of the problem.
Energizer reports they have received four complaints of "adverse affects" caused by the sprays. The products have caused burns: four in the U.S. and one in Canada. The problem stems from the fact the spray nozzles deliver more product than the typical amount in the industry. This means it takes longer for the spray to dry.
"If a consumer comes into contact with a flame or spark prior to complete drying of the product on the skin, there is a potential for the product to ignite," Energizer said in a statement.
Consumers who have recently purchased Banana Boat products are being advised not to use them. The recall affects 23 varieties of UltraMist sunscreen, including UltraMist Sport, UltraMist Ultr Defense and UltraMist Kids. 20 million units of UltraMist have been sold since 2010, when the line launched.
The product label already contains a warning about proximity to open flames, but Dr. Michele Green, a Lenox Hill dermatologist, says most people don't read the labels.
"So many people put this on outside, while they're on their way to activities, so I just don't think people are aware of that," said Green.
The problem seems to be extremely rare, according to burn experts.
"We've found no evidence of this happening before the incidents that came to our attention," said Dan Dillard, executive director of the Burn Prevention Network. Two incidents were reported to Burn Prevention; one a man who was standing near a BBQ grill, and the other a woman working with welding equipment. Both resulted in second and third degree burns.
"The alcohol and petroleum products listed on the containers are flammable, so the only thing you're missing in the heat triangle is an ignition source," Dillard said.