The Washington Times - June 2, 2011, 06:31PM

Some Senate Democrats are pressing the federal government to adopt new regulations they say are needed to prevent misleading labeling of sunscreen products.

In a letter dated Thursday to the heads of the Food and Drug Administration and Office of Management and Budget, six senators said they “continue to be disappointed that the FDA has not prioritized the implementation of meaningful, enforceable standards for sunscreen products that includes standards for both UVA and UVB protection.”


The FDA only requires sunscreen testing and labeling for “sun protection factors” (SPF), which mostly measures UVB rays, known for causing sunburns. But the senators say there is no consistency in the SPF number and its level of UVB ray protection, and that there are no standards that apply to protection from UVA rays — a major cause of skin cancer and premature aging.

The senators added that, under the current system, manufacturers may make unproven claims their products are “waterproof” and “sweatproof,” and offer “all-day protection.”

The FDA has been considering updating sunscreen regulations since 1978 and released a proposed rule in 2007, but a rule still has yet to be finalized.

“This is a public-health issue and a consumer-rights issue,” said Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat who spearheaded the letter. “Sunscreen manufacturers should be required to back up their claims with scientific evidence.”

Mr. Reed has proposed the Sunscreen Labeling Protection (SUN) Act, which would give the FDA 180 days to draft and put into place its new standards.

None of the half-dozen senators who signed the letter hail from Sunbelt states. The other five signers are Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, both of New York.