Health Plus: Are spray tans safe? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Are spray tans safe?


In recent years spray tans have been touted as a safe way to get a bronze glow without the risks associated with sun exposure.

Now comes a study suggesting the solution used can be toxic.

Here's Health Plus with details about how one eastern Iowa tanning salon is trying to keep customers safe.

Maria Gifford likes the instant color she gets from a spray tan.

"I usually like the spray tan. I mean it's quicker, and you notice it right away. With... a bed, you have to keep coming back or you might get burned so you're not going to have that with a spray tan," she said.

For years, sunless tanning has been touted as a way to avoid the skin cancer risk associated with too much exposure to ultra-violet rays.

But now comes a study suggesting the chemical used in spray tans, DHA, can be toxic when inhaled.

"So it's not skin cancer and even if it's not cancer if it does cause lung disease down the road then I think it's something we have to look at," said Dr. Cassandra Foens with Covenant Cancer Treatment Center.

The Food and Drug Administration says the solution is safe when applied to the skin, but can damage DNA if ingested.

 "The FDA has approved DHA in external applications for the skin, however they do advise that you don't inhale or ingest it so with the misting applications they are recommending that you use eye wear and nose filters," said Michele Hersom, the owner of Caribbean Tan & Spa.

At Caribbean Tan and Spa in Cedar Falls, customers are encouraged to use protective eye coverings and nose plugs during application.

"With our booths we have two at our salons which are open booths and they do have fans that help with any overspray, if there is any," said Hersom.

Dr. Foens at Covenant Cancer Treatment Center in Waterloo says more studies need to be done.

"An example, saccharin, and when we tested saccharin in mice and oh, it caused cancer but you have to eat about 100 pounds of saccharin a day to get the same level that the mice did and since humans never intake that much we didn't see the results," she said.

So far no animal or human studies have been done on spray tan chemicals--only in test tubes.

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