Spray Tans Unhealthy if InhaledJune 20th, 2012 | Posted by in Cancer | Prevention | Skin Cancer | Sunscreen | Tanning | Teen
What most people deem as a safe and healthier alternative to baking in a tanning bed might also offer dangers of its own. According to a panel of experts who reviewed a vast amount of scientific studies and documents, the active ingredient in spray tan solutions, dihydroxyacetone (DHA), has the potential to cause DNA damage and genetic alterations. According to Lynn Goldman, MD, dean of the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University, “Those seeking a bronzed skin tone without exposing themselves to harmful radiation could instead be at risk from the main ingredient in sprays, which is potentially harmful if inhaled. The substance – known as dihydroxyacetone, or DHA – enters the lungs and is then absorbed into the bloodstream where it could damage DNA and cause tumors.”
These recent studies go against the traditional advice of many dermatologist that spray tanning was completely safe. The studies reveals that the chemical, DHA, was in fact being absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. It was previously thought that the chemical merely bound to the surface of the skin and thus posed no risk to the individual. The new findings are troubling to most scientists, researchers and doctors because since initial studies in the 70s, DHA in spray tans was deemed safe and sound. Goldman continues, “I think a lot of people assume that because things are on the market that it means somebody has very carefully evaluated them and that they’re safe. The use is expanding and it doesn’t prompt a re-evaluation and I think that’s a serious problem.”
ABC News consumer watchdog, Mark Greenblatt, pointed out that “the chemicals inside that spray, which actually turns your skin brown, [are] only approved for external use, like in lotions, not for spray tanning. The concern, you might inhale it.” Using a hidden camera, he (and his team) went through various sun tanning chains which offered spray tanning services and discovered that most told him there was not a risk to inhaling the DHA-laden mist that accompanies a normal spray tan experience. Furthermore, most did not provide adequate protection for the consumer like goggles or nose plugs.
Essentially, the concern is for those who have long-term exposure to the DHA in the spray tan mist. This group of people would include tanning salon workers who are exposed to it every time they administer a tan, which could be as often as 20 or more times each day. That being said, the verdict is not entirely in on the safety of spray tanning. With the new research under review, it’s obvious there needs to be further in-depth studies completed to show the effects of extreme exposure to DHA on human body over time.