Dems seek to impose sunscreen rules

Just in time for the long holiday weekend: Senate Democrats have introduced legislation that would force the imposition of federal standards for sunscreen lotion labels.

"As families prepare for Memorial Day festivities, and plan outings this summer, most will be outdoors without adequate sun protection, even if they use sunscreen," Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the sponsor, said this week. "This is because there are currently no rules that sunscreen makers must follow when making claims about the level of protection their products provide."

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The bill, S. 1064, would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to finalize its 2007 proposal mandating that sunscreen labels disclose the extent to which the product protects against ultraviolet rays known as UVA rays. UVA rays can penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB rays, but currently, sunscreen labels are not required to tell consumers how they protect against UVA rays.

Aside from Reed, the bill is sponsored by several Democratic heavy-hitters, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.), Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-NY). First-term Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) is also a sponsor.

According to Reed, forcing the application of the FDA proposal would require labels to "disclose the level of UVA protection in a standard format that appears near the sun protection factor rating, and ensure that the SPF rating actually corresponds to a product's protection against UVB rays."

The bill would require the proposed FDA rule to take effect within 180 days after it became law.

"I look forward to a summer when Americans can finally feel protected from the sun's harmful rays," Reed said.