Reporting Kate Merrill
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BOSTON (CBS) – Firefighters put spray sunscreen to the test after a Massachusetts man was badly burned.
WBZ-TV first reported the story in May. “I just went into complete panic mode and screamed,” said burn victim Brett Sigworth.
He was using the grill during a party at his lakeside home in Stow, when he decided to apply sunscreen.
“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,” said Brett. “It went wherever the sunblock went.”
Photos show the severe burns on his chest, ears, and back. You can even see the pattern where Brett says he sprayed the product in streaks across his back.
It was a Banana Boat Sport aerosol sunscreen that Brett says caught fire on his skin.
“I’ve never experienced pain like that in my life,” he says.
The product does have a warning to avoid using while near open flames, but it says nothing about once the product is applied.
Holding a lighter, a fire official showed just how flammable the products can be when sprayed near an open flame.
The firefighters agreed to perform an unscientific test of seven brands of sunscreen.
They sprayed a separate pigskin with each sunscreen and then exposed them to the grill, one after another.
Five brands had no reaction at all to the flames.
A sixth, the Walgreens brand, did seem to catch for a split second. Then they tried the Banana Boat, the same brand Brett used when he was burned. According to the Fire Chief, the pig skin appeared to flare up and catch briefly.
“The flame source we saw was very low in intensity and very short in duration,” said the fire chief.
Then they tried a second experiment spraying the pig skins and waiting for two minutes, but nothing happened when they exposed them to the grill flame.
“If you’re placing a product on your skin it’s a good idea to let that absorb,” he says. “Maybe some of the vapors that are associated with it will evaporate.”
Banana Boat says they are unaware of any prior incidents like Brett’s and also say they comply with all labeling regulations.
Brett says he’s telling his story as a warning to others.
“It was so scary, I wouldn’t want it to happen to anyone else,” said Brett.