According to a press release today from the FDA , the Food and Drug Administration, has proposed new regulations for sunscreen products. There will be new standards for testing, labeling and formulating over the counter sunscreen products with UVA (ultraviolet A) and UVB (ultraviolet B) protection.
Most sunscreen products only list the “Sunburn Protection Factor”, SPF, to tell consumers how well the products works for them against the UVB light which causes sunburns. UVA light penetrates the skin much more than UVB light and causes the skin to tan. Both types of UV light can cause the skin to age prematurely, cause skin damage and even skin cancer.
“For more than 30 years, consumers have been able to identify the level of UVB protection provided by sunscreens using only sunburn protection factor or SPF values,” said Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs. “Under today’s proposal, consumers will also now know the level of UVA protection in sunscreens, which will help them make informed decisions about protecting themselves and their children against the harmful effects of the sun.”
Under the new regulation, sunscreen products will be labeled to inform consumers of other ways to protect themselves from overexposure to sunlight. One way would suggest that they limit their time in the sun. Another suggestion is for consumers to wear protective clothing.
There will also be a new rating system in place using stars.
* One star will represent low UVA protection
** Two stars, medium protection
*** Three stars, high protection
**** Four stars, the highest UVA protection available in an over-the-counter (OTC) sunscreen product.
If a sunscreen product does not rate at least one star, FDA is proposing that its labeling bear a “no UVA protection” marking on the front label, near the SPF value.
FDA also wants to make changes regarding protection against UVB light. The agency has proposed amending its 1999 existing rule on UVB products to increase the maximum sunburn protection factor from SPF 30+ to SPF 50+. Under the proposed amendment, the range would be SPF2 to SPF50+. For more information on SPF factors and their meanings check out this website : http://www.fda.gov/cder/Offices/OTC/understanding_spf_sunscreen.htm .
Sun safety is never out of season. In the summer it’s time for picnics, trips to the pool and beach. But fall hikers and winter skiers and sledders need to be as wary of the sun’s rays as swimmers do. People who work outdoors need to take precautions as well.