PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - Sunscreen is used to protect skin, but after a Chesapeake woman got third-degree burns from a popular brand, 10 On Your Side decided tested several brands.
As soon WAVY's test was completed, we called the makers of Banana Boat and four days later they recalled half a million cans of spray-on sunscreen.
Chesapeake's Mary Shoulders is one of five people in the US and Canada who got burned after using Banana Boat spray-on sunscreen. Shoulders is a welder and was doing a type of job where there were no sparks flying when her arm went up in flames.
"It's still very sensitive when I touch it and it's not healed all the way in the back," Shoulders said a month
10 On Your Side, with the help of the Norfolk Fire Department put four aerosol sunscreens and two insect repellents to the test
First, we tested the one Shoulders used, Banana Boat Sport. It went up in flames quickly and burned for nearly 15 seconds.
Next we tried Coppertone's sport variety. It also burned, but for only two seconds.
Wal-Mart's Equate brand burned a bit longer.
Next, we tested products specifically marketed to kids and families, Coppertone Water Babies and Off Smoothe and Dry Family Care insect repellent. Neither caught fire at all.
Norfolk Fire Department Medical Director, Dr. Barry Knapp, was shocked,
"Its obviously a potential source for burn," Norfolk Fire Department Medical Director Dr. Barry Knapp said.
At Knapp's suggestion, we repeated the test on a football, something more absorbent.
This time, we waited about three minutes for the product to soak in and none of them caught fire.
In its recall notice, the makers of Banana Boat said they believe the spray valve dispensed more than is typical in the industry and as a result it took longer to dry. Our test proved that to be true. Once it's dry the product is safe.
"All it takes is once to be near a flame a cigarette a spark it can cause serious, significant and even life threatening damage," Knapp said.
A warning Shoulders will make sure her nieces and nephews know, because she can't image what happened to her happening to a child.
A spokesperson with Banana Boat assured WAVY several times they would respond to a number of questions we still have, including how they determined it the spray nozzle is to blame and how they intended to fix the problem. We still have not received those answers.
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