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EWG Asks FDA Advisors to Back Sunscreen Regulations

For Immediate Release: 
Thursday, October 7, 2010

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, -- Environmental Working Group (EWG) asked a prestigious expert advisory panel to urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue long-awaited regulations for sunscreen products.

EWG’s letter to the FDA’s Nonprescription Drug Advisory Committee follows the September release of its report, entitled U.S. Sunscreens Get Flunking Grade For UVA. The EWG analysis found that only one-third of beach and sport sunscreens with SPF ratings of 30+ provide adequate protection against ultraviolet A rays, which do not cause sunburn like UVB rays but are more prevalent and penetrating. UVA rays, comprising more than 90 percent of the ultraviolet spectrum, are suspected of causing skin cancer and premature aging.

EWG hopes that by highlighting its findings, the expert committee will press the FDA to finalize enforceable regulations for “broad spectrum” sun protection, as the agency has promised ever since it started drafting sunscreen rules in 1978.

In the absence of regulations that carry the force of law, unscrupulous manufacturers are free to make unsubstantiated claims about their products’ sun protection. Until the FDA can ensure the safety and effectiveness of over-the-counter sunscreens, consumers will continue to confront a bewildering array of products that make exaggerated or meaningless sun protection claims.

Scientists have learned a lot more about sunscreens since the FDA began working on over-the-counter sunscreen regulations. The latest research, EWG argues, makes a compelling case for finalizing rules that prescribe the conditions for the safety, effectiveness and labeling of those products.

"The fact that it takes more than 30 years for a regulatory agency to make a decision should come as a shock to taxpayers, or serve as prime example of the government’s inability to get things done,” said Thomas Cluderay, EWG Stabile Law Fellow.

The letter is available here.


EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.