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New FDA guidelines for sunscreen and sunscreen labels effective June 18, 2012: What do I need to know?

  1. In order for a sunscreen label to say "broad spectrum" it must be FDA-certified to provide a significant amount of UVA protection.
  2. Sunscreen labels can no longer say "waterproof," "sweatproof," "instant protection," "all day protection," or "sunblock."
  3. Sunscreens can be labeled as water resistant if the label specifies whether the product is water resistant for 40 or 80 minutes.

Should our district adopt a comprehensive sun safety policy?
Adopting a district policy encouraging the use of hats, sun protective clothing, sunglasses, lip balm, and sunscreen, indicates that your district recognizes the importance of protecting the health of your students and staff health. Visit Make it Policy to tailor a customized sun safety policy for your district.

Why should we be concerned about ultraviolet (UV) radiation?
UV radiation is recognized by Congress, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies as a known human carcinogen. School districts have taken steps to minimize exposure to other harmful substances such as asbestos, radon and lead on school grounds. The sun's UV radiation presents both a recreational and occupational hazard to students and staff when they are outdoors at school or school functions so steps should be taken to prevent overexposure. Educating students and staff members about sun safety and creating policy aimed at minimizing exposure to UV radiation may help reduce possible liabilities in the future.

Is it easy to implement sun safety practices once we adopt a sun safety policy?
It is up to you to determine which sun safety practices to implement within your district. It can be as simple as approving a specific hat style for students and encouraging the use of cover up clothing and hats while students and staff members are outdoors. For those districts that want to do more, there are additional practices that can be implemented such as including sun safety education in curricula and increasing shade in play areas. For tips on how to implement a variety of sun safety practices, visit Put it into Practice.

How much time is required to implement a sun safety policy?
Implementing a new policy does take time, although, the exact amount varies depending on the size and structure of the district. Sun Safe Colorado provides numerous resources available to aid your district with the implementation of a sun safety policy. While it can take time to write, approve and implement a policy, Sun Safe Colorado provides individualized support, and a comprehensive website to help you minimize the overall time commitment necessary for implementing policy.

Is it important to teach sun safety to all grade levels?
Teaching sun safety to students of all ages provides them with the knowledge and skills they need to make health conscious choices when spending time in the sun. UV radiation is recognized as a carcinogen, and we should encourage all students to protect themselves from it. Given the large percentage of time that students spend outdoors, it is important to teach sun safety at every grade level and to reinforce the messages throughout the year.

Will a sun safety program strain our already tight budget?
Many significant steps can be taken without any impact on the budget. It doesn’t cost anything to establish a hats, protective clothing and sunscreen policy. Your district might start implementing a sun safety policy by simply posting advisories in schools about effective sun safety behaviors, and announcing the daily UV index. Over time, curricula can be altered to include sun safety lessons within existing lesson plans, staff trainings can be implemented, and landscaping can be enhanced on school campuses to create more usable shade for students. Grant funding for shaded school areas is sometimes available through city or state funding agencies. To learn more about simple sun safe changes districts can make, visit What is Sun Safety?

How common are sunscreen allergies?
Fortunately, allergic reaction to sunscreen is very uncommon and, if one does occur, it is generally a minor reversible skin rash. Less than 1% of people have some reaction to some ingredients in certain sunscreens. Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products are good choices especially for people already known to have skin allergies. Before a parent sends a sunscreen to school with his or her child, ask them to perform a test by dabbing a small amount on the back of the child's hand. If a rash or itching develops, a doctor or pharmacist can help recommend products that might be better for the child's skin. If your district plans to provide sunscreen to students, send a notice home to parents so they know the ingredients and type of sunscreen that will be used.

Based on the ethnicity of the students within our district, is sun safety policy necessary?
Studies by the American Cancer Society indicate that melanoma is on the rise nationwide. Although the risk is greater for people with light skin, exposure to UV rays is a health risk for everyone.

(2006, March 9). Detailed guide: Skin Cancer - Melanoma. What are the key statistics about melanoma? American Cancer Society

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