Many women get spray tans as an alternative to tanning in booths that use ultraviolet lights which have been shown to greatly increase cancer risk in those who use them. However, many studies have shown that dihydroxyacetone (DHA), the active chemical used in spray tans, may cause genetic alterations and DNA damage, according to a group of medical experts who reviewed ten of the most-recent published and publicly available scientific studies on DHA for ABC New. One of these scientific studies was a federal report that ABC News obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
DHA can become dangerous if it is inhale or ingested, because that makes it easy for the chemical to get in the bloodstream. The FDA recommends that “consumers should request measures to protect their eyes and mucous membranes and prevent inhalation.”
In order to see if tanning salons were helping to spread the FDA safety message, ABC sent undercover journalists to 12 salons at random. 9 out of 12 did not have any eye covers or nose plugs. 11 out of 12 did not have any mouth protection. Every salon discouraged using the gear because it would affect the way the tan looked.