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Sunscreen 'Broad Spectrum' Gets Murky

  • NPR, Monday, June 18, 2012 9:30 AM

The federal government has announced a plan to do something about the confusion around sun block SPF labeling. The idea was to make it easier for consumers to pick the best product to protect themselves from skin cancer and skin damage. It was supposed to happen this month, but the FDA announced it was delaying the new requirements until December. Only sunscreens that protect against both ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet A (UVA) light could be labelled "broad spectrum," which means they provide the best protection against skin cancer. Sunscreens that don't have a SPF of at least 15 would have to have big warning labels that say they don't protect against skin cancer or "premature skin aging." Terms like "sunblock," "water-proof" and "sweat-proof" would be banned. Sunscreens would be permitted to claim that they are "water-resistant" but would have to specify how long they work — either 40 or 80 minutes.



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