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The FDA calls for better sunscreen protection and requirements

by JASON AQUINO Staff Writer

The Food and Drug Administration announced early this year that sunscreen manufactures would be required to advise consumers of their sun product effectiveness by June 14. Sunscreen packaging must clearly detail two key points – the “broad-spectrum protection” of harmful Ultra Violet A & B rays and the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. The sunscreen is putting public health at risk without protection from both rays. Manufacturers are allowed to sell sunscreen as an “over-the-counter” product, meaning it does not require a prescription. However, companies are required to conduct safety tests and verify its effectiveness. The products must then be labeled clearly so that consumers understand how long their protection will last, how often it needs to be re-applied, and the warnings of unprotected sun exposure. Freshman Victoria Collins said, “This is good from the standpoint that using the products provides you the information necessary to do your own research to be sure they’re correct.” The first test will confirm whether or not the product can protect against UVA and UVB radiation, as both are very harmful rays from the sun that can cause skin cancer. Companies must also run their products through the Sun Protection Factor test. This test shows how well a sunscreen can protect a person from sunburn. The sunscreen manufacturing industry is spending large amounts of money to perform these tests and to revise the marketing of their products. The manager of Rocky Mountain Sunscreen in Arvada said, “We are a $2 million company, and it will probably cost us between $50,000 and $70,000 to conduct these tests. That is a huge undertaking. I think a lot of smaller companies might not be able to make the change.” FDA officials are also advising sunscreen manufacturers to stop producing products that say they are “waterproof” when they are actually not. Those products must pass another phase of tests to prove how the sunscreen will last when coming into contact with water or sweat. If the sunscreen product is not resistant to either substance, it must have a label warning the user to wear a water-resistant sunscreen if he or she will be in contact with water. Junior Alex Alicea said, “If the products in turn are not effective, then they would have been spending money on the product just to remake it to fit standards of the FDA.” According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually with some form of skin cancer that could have been prevented with the proper precautions. It is also a myth to assume that the sun’s rays will only affect those with fair skin type. The FDA decided on May 11 to issue an extension giving manufacturers additional time to adequately test and label their product lines accordingly.

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