Nearly 75 percent of sunscreens offer subpar protection, study says

Almost three-fourths of the 750 sunscreens evaluated for EWG’s annual Guide to Sunscreens, released today, offer inferior protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor, or retinyl palmitate, which may harm skin.

Josh Jackson puts on sunblock during a Canterbury Bulldogs NRL training session at Belmore Sports Ground on September 17, 2014 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images)
Josh Jackson puts on sunblock during a Canterbury Bulldogs NRL training session at Belmore Sports Ground on September 17, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images)

“There have been some improvements in sun protection, but there is still a lot to be done to improve the quality of sunscreens,” said Sonya Lunder, EWG senior analyst. “Most of the products sold in the U.S. aren’t as good as they should be and don’t offer enough protection against ultraviolet rays.”

People depend too much on sunscreens and should stay out of the sun and cover up as much as possible.

With melanoma, a deadly type of skin cancer characterized by mole-like growths, on the rise, it’s more important than ever for Americans to practice safe sun protection measures and shield their skin against harmful UV rays.

Nearly three-quarters of sunscreens offer inferior protection, a new study shows.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Nearly three-quarters of sunscreens offer inferior protection, a new study shows. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Despite growing awareness of the dangers of exposure to UV radiation and a multi-billion dollar sunscreen industry, melanoma rates have tripled over the past three decades.

“Young children are especially vulnerable to sun damage. Only a few blistering sunburns in childhood can double the chance a person will develop skin cancer over a lifetime,” said Curt DellaValle, EWG senior scientist and cancer researcher.

“This year we took a closer look at the best-rated and worst-scoring sunscreens specifically marketed for use on children,” said Nneka Leiba, EWG deputy director of research. “Given their increased vulnerability to the sun’s harmful rays, we were dismayed to find so many products marketed for babies and kids that still don’t meet our standards for safety and efficacy.”

This year’s EWG Guide to Sunscreens includes a list of the best-scoring and worst rated sunscreens for kids.

“Americans need to demand stronger regulations and safer, more effective sunscreens for the entire family.” Leiba added.

Specifically, the Food and Drug Administration needs to finalize its long-awaited rules on sunscreens. In 2011, FDA banned misleading marketing claims such as “all-day protection” and “sweat-“ or “waterproof,” but the agency needs to do more to ensure that every product on store shelves provides meaningful protection, EWG said.

And while there has been some improvement in the number of sunscreens that include an ingredient that filters UVA radiation, the FDA rule defining “broad spectrum” protection remains very lax.

“About half the sunscreen products sold in the U.S. wouldn’t pass the more stringent European standards because they don’t filter enough UVA rays,” said Lunder.

The 2016 guide also includes  information on how to read product labels, identify potential hazards and avoid skin damage. Be sure to check out EWG’s sunscreen label decoder.

Shoppers on the go can download EWG’s Healthy Living App to get ratings and safety information on sunscreens and other personal care products right.

Here are some quick tips for choosing better sunscreens:

  1. Check your products in EWG’s sunscreen database and a avoid harmful additives.
  2. Steer clear of products with SPF higher than 50.
  3. Avoid sprays. They don’t provide a uniform coating and you don’t want to inhale them and coat your lungs with sunscreen.
  4. Stay away from Vitamin A. Government studies link the use of retinyl palminate, a form of Vitamin A, to formation of skin tumors and lesions when it’s applied to sun-exposed skin.
  5. Steer clear of oxybenzone. This widely used UV-filtering chemical is a hormone disruptor and allergen.
  6. Cover up. The best sun protection is clothing. Wear shirts, hats and pants to protect your skin.
  7. Reapply at least every two hours.

 

 

 

 

Gas pump skimmer bill signed into law; requires stations to have security features

Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a bill designed to protect consumers from “skimmers” at gas station pumps.

(Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)
(Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam made the bill cracking down on skimmers — devices used to steal credit card information — one of his top priorities in the legislative session, as his office has worked to eradicate on the use of skimmers in Florida.

» RELATED: How scammers use skimmers to steal your credit card information

The bill, SB 912, was one of 14 signed into law by Scott on Friday. It goes into effect Oct. 1, and requires gas stations to have security devices on pumps to combat skimmers, while also stiffening penalties on credit card fraud.

State Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, and Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, sponsored the measure.

» MAP: Where skimmers were found in Florida last year

How the bill seeks to protect consumers from ID theft at the pump:

• Requiring self-service fuel dispensers to use certain security measures to prevent theft of consumer financial information. The Senate bill calls for at a minimum, the placement of security tape over the panel opening that leads to the scanning device.

• Increasing enforcement authority against those who either possess or traffic in fraudulent credit cards.

• Reclassifying the crime of unlawful conveyance of fuel, which increases the maximum sentence.

• Increasing the offense level of the crime, which affects the sentencing guidelines.

 

Making a last-minute donation in 2015? These 4 tips can help

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Hoping to make a last-minute donation before the end of the year so you can include it on your 2015 tax return? Consumer Reports has some tips that could help.

• Mailing a check to a charity? You can count it toward your 2015 tax return as long as the postage date on the envelope is before the end of the year. To make sure you have proof, don’t just drop your donation in the mailbox — send it certified or registered mail, Consumer Reports advises.

• If you send your check via a service like UPS or FedEx, you may have missed your chance: You need to verify the charity received your donation before the end of the year. Consumer Reports recommends asking the charity for a confirmation email that your donation is received before the end of 2015.

• For those who want to donate via credit card, as long as the donation shows up on your December credit card statement, you’ll be in good shape.

• Occasionally, charities will allow people to donate via text message. In that case, the proof you need is your cellphone bill, Consumer Reports says. The charge should display on your phone bill before Jan. 1.

Read more at on the Consumer Reports website.