Reporting Marissa Bailey
CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s the middle of summer and many of us are using sunscreens on a daily basis.
A Boston man says he was outside grilling when the sunscreen on his skin caught fire. CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey decided to do some unscientific testing to see if sunscreen could catch fire once it’s applied.
Brett Sigworth said he was on grill duty for a cookout with friends when he decided to reapply sunscreen.
“Then I walked over to my grill and took one of the holders to move some of the charcoal briquettes around, and all of a sudden it just went up my arm,” he said. “It went wherever the sunblock went — that’s where it burned.”
Sigworth was using Banana Boat Sport Aerosol Sunscreen with a warning label that says to avoid using near heat, flame or while smoking. It does not, however, warn about flammability once applied.
With the help of the Naperville Fire Department, CBS 2 tested seven different brands on pig skin and then exposed the skins to a gas grill.
The products tested:
-Aveeno Active Naturals Continuous Protection Sunblock Spray SPF 70
-Bain de Soleil Spray Transpare Sunscreen SPF 10
-Banana Boat Clear Ultramist Sport Performance Active Dry SPF 50 High UVA/UVB
-Coppertone Sport High Performance Broad Spectrum UVA/UVB Clear Continuous Spray SPF 50
-Hawaiian Tropic Tanning Dry Oil Clear Spray Sunscreen SPF 12
-Up & Up Sport Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Spray
-Walgreens Continuous Spray Sunscreen UVA/UVB Protection SPF 30
One after the other, five brands had no reaction to the flames.
A sixth, the Walgreens brand, did seem to catch for a split second.
Then testers tried the Banana Boat, the same brand Sigworth used when he was burned.
It caught fire briefly. After being sprayed again, it did not catch.
Then CBS 2 sprayed both the Banana Boat and the Walgreens brand on fresh pigkins and let them sit for two minutes. When exposed to the flame, nothing happened.
Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis says the results indicate people should be careful when applying sunscreen before going near fire.
“If you’re placing a product on your skin, it’s a good idea to let that absorb. Maybe some of the vapors that are associated with it will evaporate,” he says.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says it has no record of people being burned while using sunscreens near a grill. The FDA says it’s looking into it.
Banana Boat says it is unaware of any prior incidents like Sigworth’s and also says it complies with all current labeling regulations. Walgreens told us it takes this very seriously and consumers should be reminded to follow warnings and not use sunscreens in the presence of flame, heat or while smoking.
“Aerosol products of all kinds commonly have labeling clearly indicating warnings against exposure to flame, heat and smoking, and consumers should be reminded to use aerosol sun screens only as instructed,” Walgreens said.
“Banana Boat products adhere to FDA and other regulatory bodies’ safety and labeling guidelines. Consumers’ safety is our number one priority, so we regularly review products and information. We continue to remind consumers that all aerosol products should not be used in the presence of flames, heat or while smoking,” Banana Boat said.