A new Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of 446 beach and sport sunscreens with SPF ratings of 30+ found that nearly two-thirds of them provide inadequate UVA protection. UVA rays are far more prevalent than UVB rays and penetrate deeper into uncovered skin, posing a serious and insidious threat to human health. Yet most of the sunscreens on the U.S. market today offer woefully weak protection against relentless UVA rays.
“UVA radiation is associated with a number of serious health problems, including an increased risk of skin cancer,” said Jane Houlihan, EWG’s senior vice president for research. “While sunburns become rare in the fall and winter months as UVB radiation drops off, UVA rays continue to assault our skin with a higher intensity relative to UVB rays than during the summer.”
According to EWG, despite claims on sunscreen labels, there’s no such thing as an all-day, sweat-proof, waterproof sun block. Many products advertise but do not actually provide “broad spectrum” sun protection.
EWG believes that a major obstacle to progress is the federal Food and Drug Administration, which has never managed to sign, seal and deliver the sunscreen regulations it began developing in 1978. The latest draft of those rules was issued in 2007 but ended up in regulatory limbo, where it remains.