Spontaneous Combustion or Sunscreen Mishap?

Spontaneous Combustion or Sunscreen Mishap?

Mackenzie Thompson

by Mackenzie Thompson

Life Saver, AMC

posted on Oct 8, 2013, at 9:51 pm


The primary purpose of sunscreen is to protect the skin from sunburns, but a number of incidents have occurred in which people have used spray-on sunscreen and burst into flame after approaching a barbecue grill, lighting a cigarette or standing near a citronella candle. The FDA has five of these incidents of skin being ignited and needing medical care on file. Every time, the user of the sunscreen supposedly thought the spray was dry. There had been no “blowtorch effect” in which the flame flared outward when the aerosol vapor was applied near a source of fire.

The cause of the burns remains controversial. Banana Boat spray sunscreens, made by Energizer Holdings, Inc., was involved in all these incidents and issued a recall last year. They claim, though, that there is usually no threat towards sunbathers when using this product. Instead, a faulty spray valve on the can allotted too much sunscreen so that it took longer to dry and was still moist when near a flame. So Energizer has improved the valve and “rigorously tested it through our comprehensive safety and quality assurance processes,” the company says. New products began shipping in November 2012.

Regulators believe the problem could not only include Banana Boat sprays. The FDA still warns us that many sunscreen sprays have flammable elements: “We recommend that after you have applied a sunscreen spray labeled as flammable, you consider avoiding being near an open flame, sparks or an ignition source,” said Narayan Nair, a lead medical officer at the FDA.

To read the full article, go to Scientific American

About Mackenzie

Mackenzie is a lover of world travel, photography, design, style and Chinese cooking. She is passionate about working towards a purpose, recently graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Media and Marketing, and is currently residing in Manhattan.

Contact Mackenzie at mackenzie.thompson@advmedcert.com

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