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Sunscreen labeling: Whats the issue?

In 1997 Congress ordered the FDA to issue regulations on the prevention and treatment of sunburns.  The FDA completed this request in May 1999 and at that time proposed a list of regulations for the labeling of sunscreen.  Initially the industry was given until May 2001 to comply.  In Mid 2000 the FDA delayed the deadline for compliance until December 2002.  The new regulations established among other things, simplified labeling requirements so that consumers would be better able to understand the products and how to use them. 


Unfortunately, there were delays that stayed the new labeling requirements.  From May 1999, when the FDA completed the list, until it was set to be enforced, concerns regarding the harmful effects of UVA rays were raised.  This led the FDA to delay the regulations until further studies could be done. Many sunscreen manufacturers claim that their product is broad spectrum which implies that the sunscreen protects from both UVA and UVB rays.  This is not true; the current SPF rating system applies only to UVB rays. 


On August 23, 2007 the FDA once again proposed a new and updated set of rules for the labeling of sunscreen products.  The new rules allow for an SPF rating of 2 to 50+ for UVB radiation and a separate rating for UVA radiation.  Unlike UVB ratings, the new UVA rating will be a four star system with one star being low protection and 4 stars being the highest protection.  In addition, if there is no UVA protection in the product, the FDA proposes that a statement be made on the label to reflect this. 


To learn more about the new rules proposed by the FDA, as well as how they differ from the original FDA monograph, the FDA has set up a Q&A webpage concerning this topic (  The FDA is accepting public comments on the new regulations for 90 days from the date the proposed rule was published.  Visit their Q&A website to learn where to submit comments.  To read the complete 54 page monograph visit and click on the link for Federal Register.



(2000, July-Aug). Trying to look SUNsational? Complexity persists in using sunscreens. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from FDA Consumer Magazine Web site:


Tasker, Fred (2007, July 31). Sunscreen labels may not give accurage info, experts say. Retrieved July 31, 2007, from Centre Daily Web site:


(2007, Aug 23). Questions and answers on the 2007 sunscreen proposed rule. Retrieved August 27, 2007, from U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site:



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Sun safety policy adoption: Important to schools everywhere

Adams County School District 14, in Commerce City Colorado, recently adopted a sun safety policy by incorporating sun safety into Administrative Regulation (ADF-R) Student Wellness.  The districts goals for student wellness encompass nutrition education, nutrition standards, and physical activity standards.  Their commitment to sun safety is detailed in the Physical Activity Standards section Goal #2.  Specifically, students are encouraged to wear hats and protective clothing, use sunscreen and lip balm, and wear sunglasses when outdoors.  Students and staff are also encouraged to utilize shade when congregating outdoors.  To ensure that there is adequate shade available; administrators will designate a person at each school site to evaluate existing shade and to make recommendations for additional shade if necessary. 


Educating students about the purpose of sun safety is equally important to this district.  ADF-R recommends sun safety education for all students K-12.  Topics include the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation as well as skin cancer prevention.


Adopting policy is only part of the solution.  Implementing the policy and making sure that students and staff are encouraged to practice sun safety is important as well.  At Adams County School District 14, Chief Operating Office, Mike Grandstaff, is communicating their sun safety policy to personnel and students by sending sun safety posters to each school.  He recommends that they be posted near the Health Clinic or any other area deemed beneficial by the school principal.  These posters will be a visual reminder to students and staff about the importance of sun safety.


Join Adams County School District 14 in supporting sun safety by adopting and implementing a sun safety policy in your district.  Educating children about the perils of overexposure to the suns harmful rays, and teaching them how to protect themselves today can save a life tomorrow.

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D has gotten a lot of press lately.  There are a multitude of studies citing the health benefits of vitamin D, the best way to get adequate levels of vitamin D, and the related health consequences.  With so many recent reports, you may find it difficult to glean the facts from the speculation.  The Sun Safe School website offers a brief explanation of the link between vitamin D, the suns UV rays, and the related health benefits and consequences, for more information click here.


The National Institute of Health has joined forces with the Office of Dietary Supplements to create a website aimed at providing the public with all the basic information they need to make an informed decision about their vitamin D needs.  To view this website go to   On September 5th and 6th, 2007 they held a conference in Bethesda, MD entitled Vitamin D and Health in the 21st Century.  This conference brought together the nations leading experts in nutrition and health to discuss the recent findings on vitamin D.  Visit their website for the latest information from the NIH/ODS conference.







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