The legislation focuses on how much protection a product provides against ultraviolet-A (UVA) rays that cause skin cancer, and could have significant implications for the way such products are labeled and marketed. "Consumers may wrongly believe that their sunscreen is sufficiently blocking all the rays that cause skin cancer. In fact, the only thing really being blocked is the truth," said Lowey. The campaign itself is demanding that the US Department of Health and Human Services should conduct a public awareness campaign concerning the effects of overexposure to the sun and ways to effectively protect the skin. Lowey has launched the campaign because she says that no such standards currently exist and that it is the consumer's right to know what sort of protection sunscreen products offer against the potentially harmful rays. Although Lowey states her belief that the FDA has done a good job to ensure that consumers are protected against the harmful effects of UV rays, she says that unclear labeling can lead to consumer confusion over whether or not the sunscreen they are using has comprehensive UVA and UVB coverage. Although FDA regulation clearly stipulates that sunscreen products sold in the US must contain some sort of protection against UVB rays, no standards currently exist that take into account the effectiveness of the SPF rating for UVA rays. Lowey's campaign is being backed up by dermatologists Dr. Andrew Bronin, who is lending his support to get the legislation changed. Likewise, the campaign is also being supported by lobby group Environmental Working Group, which has launched a number of campagings against the personal care industry in recent years, mainly over the use of what it deems to be potentially dangerous chemicals. To back up the campaign, the EWG claims that at least 51 percent of sunscreens currently on the US market contain false information, such as 'providing all-day protection', or 'blocks all harmful rays'. Furthermore, it also points to statistics that claim an estimated 12 percent of sunscreens on the market with an SPF of 30 or more, do not contain comprehensive protection against UVA rays, which, as well as cancer, also lead to premature skin aging. The campaign come just a few months after New York state said it was mulling legislation to ensure that the expiry date was clearly shown on all sunscreen products sold within the state in view of the fact that sunscreen loses its efficacy beyond after a certain time.
A campaign to update FDA legislation relating to standards for UVA protection on sunscreen formuations sold in the US has been launched by congresswoman Nita Lowey.