PCPC counters EWG’s claims that most sunscreens are ineffective or dangerous

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Ewg, Sunscreen

Cosmetics trade association the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) has responded to the annual sunscreen report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) that this year recommends less than a tenth of products on the market.

The report is published annually by EWG and ranks sunscreens looking at a number of factors including the SPF and UVA protection, product stability and whether any of the listed ingredients are associated with health hazards.

This year, EWG has recommended only 8 percent of the 500 products it has investigated and claims some are dangerous to consumers’ health.

‘Baseless assertions’

Chief Scientist at PCPC, John Bailey, has accused the EWG of making ‘baseless assertions’ that may lead consumers to abandon their use of sunscreen products, as well as questioning its science.

“EWG’s methodology for calculating SPF values has been proven to be inaccurate and unreliable by sunscreen experts around the world,”​ he said in a statement, adding that the allegations are in ‘direct conflict’ with the established scientific and FDA safety assessments including those from international regulatory bodies in the EU and Canada.

“EWG’s report lacks scientific credibility and represents a disservice to those working to decrease the incidents of skin cancer and other damage caused by the sun,” ​he said.

According to the EWG report, there has been a surge in products claiming exaggerated SPF protection, leading to consumers believing they are more protected than they actually are.

Fears over vitamin A

This year the report has also highlighted the use of a vitamin A (retinoyl palmitate) in many sunscreens which it claims could be photocarcinogenic.

PCPC has responded by saying that although the National Toxicology Program is conducting a study investigating whether retinoyl palmitate can increase UV-induced photocarcinogenisity, no peer reviewed evidence has yet been released and EWG should not make assertions based on preliminary data.

The report also questions the safety of the organic UV filter oxybenzone claiming it can disrupt the hormone system; however, PCPC has said there is no available data to support a link between exposure to this chemical and hormone disrupting effects in humans.

As in previous years, EWG has criticized FDA in its failure to release finalized regulations regarding sunscreens. The as yet unpublished FDA finalized sunscreen monograph, which would provide manufacturers with new rules on sunscreens, has been promised since 1978, EWG claims.

“Both world wars, the creation of Medicare and the planning and execution of the moon landing combined took less time to achieve than FDA's promised sunscreen regulations,”​ said Jane Houlihan, EWG Senior Vice President for Research.

Bailey responded by saying that it is imperative FDA make decisions based on sound science and the regulatory body need time to consider evolving science and data submissions.

“Any accusations that the FDA has intentionally delayed issuing final sunscreen regulations are false and misguided,”​ he said.

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