Sunscreen recalled due to fire risk
A bottle of Banana Boat sunscreen is placed in the sand near the Newport Beach pier in Newport Beach Calif., Friday, Oct. 19, 2012. The maker of Banana Boat sunscreen is recalling some of its spray-on products after reports that a handful of people who have caught on fire after applying the lotion and standing near open flames. The bottle was placed in the sand by the photographer to illustrate this report. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
TORONTO - The maker of Banana Boat sunscreen is recalling some of its spray-on products in Canada and the U.S. following reports that a handful of people have caught on fire after applying the lotion and coming into contact with an open flame.
Energizer Holdings Canada said there have been five reports of people catching fire after applying the sunscreen in the last year. Four burn cases were reported in the U.S. and one in Canada.
The company is pulling two types of continuous spray Banana Boat sun care products from stores across Canada — Banana Boat Ultra Defense SPF 60 Spray Sunscreen and Banana Boat Sport Performance SPF 60 Spray Sunscreen.
The company says there is a "potential risk of product igniting on the skin if contact is made with a source of ignition before the product is completely dry."
The products were sold nationally from January 2010 through Sept. 20, 2012.
The recall is larger south of the border, with the company pulling 23 varieties of Banana Boat UltraMist formulations from store shelves.
The U.S. recall includes products like UltraMist Sport, UltraMist Ultra Defence and UltraMist Kids.
More than 20 million units have been sold since UltraMist launched in 2010, a company spokesman said.
The problem appears to be caused by UltraMist's spray valve, which is applying too much of the product, Energizer said in a statement. As a result the lotion is taking longer to dry, which raises the flammability risk.
UltraMist's label warns users: "Keep away from sources of ignition — no smoking."
But dermatologists say most people don't read such 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 Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at New York's Lenox Hill Hospital.
Green said aerosol sunscreens have become popular in recent years because they're faster and easier to apply than traditional creams.
Doctors and burn experts said Friday the problem appears to be extremely rare.
"I've been doing this for 30 years and I've never seen or heard of this happening before," said Dr. Darrel Rigel, professor of dermatology at New York University.
Rigel pointed out that the flammable ingredients in aerosol— including alcohol — are common to many products, including hairspray and spray-on deodorants.
"I think you just have to use common sense and not be near an open fire when you put on aerosol anything," said Rigel, a past president of the American Academy of Dermatology.
St. Louis-based Energizer Holdings said it has notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the recall, which it undertook voluntarily.
Consumers who purchased the products are being told not to use them. More information is available from the manufacturer at 1-800-SAFESUN.
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