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EWG Says FDA Sunscreen Reg Updates Not Enough


WASHINGTON—The Environmental Working Group (EWG) submitted comments to FDA about the agency’s efforts to ensure the safety and effectiveness of sunscreens. EWG, which produces an annual review of the best and worst sunscreens on the market, has long urged FDA to issue comprehensive regulations. EWG’s comments highlight specific ways the final rules fall short of protecting public health. They also weigh in on several issues FDA left unresolved, including whether to cap SPF values at 50+ and how to regulate spray sunscreens.

EWG supports FDA’s new labeling requirements because they will help consumers make more informed decisions. By banning overly broad claims like “waterproof" and “sweatproof," the rules will promote more effective sunscreen use; however, EWG believes FDA set too weak a standard for products to qualify as broad-spectrum. EWG said sunscreens that meet FDA’s low standard will give consumers a false sense of protection from the sun’s harmful rays. Sunscreen makers in Europe follow more stringent guidelines that only a fraction of U.S. sunscreens would meet.

EWG called on FDA to do more to ensure consumers are not faced with undue health risks when using sunscreens, e.g., FDA should investigate the safety of new active ingredients used in sunscreens in other markets that have not reached the American consumer. These ingredients could prove to be valuable tools in the fight to prevent skin cancer, but have yet to be approved by FDA for use in products sold in the United States.

As for those issues still under FDA review, EWG believes FDA should cap the labeling of SPF values at 50+ because higher values have no proven clinical benefits. EWG also supports FDA’s plan to study the safety and effectiveness of sunscreen sprays, which may present unique risks when inhaled.

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