by Brett Neely
The Food and Drug Administration is proposing new rules that would require sunscreen labels to indicate how well a given product protects users against UV-A. Current rules for sunscreen labels were first written in the 70s, when the effects of UV-A radiation weren’t entirely understood. The SPF number on sunscreen only tells you how well it protects against UV-B radiation, which causes sunburns.
Steven Wang, a dermatologist working with the Skin Cancer Foundation, says it’s about time sunscreen labels included the effects of UV-A. “Right now the consumer has no way of knowing which product provides good UV-A protection.”
The FDA’s Matt Holman details some of the harmful side effects of UV-A radiation. “There’s all sorts of damage that can lead to skin cancer, there’s damage that can lead to premature aging.”
The proposed FDA rules, which would create a new ranking system, likely won’t be ready until October. Sunscreen makers will get another year and a half after the system’s institution before they would have to put the new labels on their products. Americans bought nearly $800 millions worth of sunscreen last year.
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