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The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released an analysis of the safety and effectiveness of more than 700 sunscreen products and developed a database based on these findings to help rate the best products.

According to background information provided in a press release, the FDA has not finalized comprehensive sunscreen standards that have been in development for 29 years. When complete, these rules will standardize a rating system for UVA protection and will prohibit use of misleading and inaccurate claims such as “waterproof” and “lasts all day,” which are commonly found on sunscreen products.

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The EWG’s analysis was based on nearly 400 peer-reviewed studies of the 17 sunscreen chemicals approved for use in the United States, an analysis of sunscreen ingredient toxicity linked to 60 industry and government databases on chemical hazards, and product-by-product assessments of protection from both UVA and UVB radiation.

Researchers found that 84% of 785 sunscreen products with an SPF rating of 15 or higher fail to offer adequate sun protection or contain hazardous ingredients. “Ironically, some popular sunscreen chemicals break down when exposed to sunlight and must be formulated with stabilizing chemicals,” the authors revealed.

“Our research shows that some products are far more effective than others, while presenting fewer safety concerns,” said Jane Houlihan, vice president for research at EWG. “Before we launched this Web site, the consumer had no way to identify the safest and most effective sunscreens.”

For the complete list of sunscreen products rated by the EWG, visit the database Web site at www.ewg.org/sunscreen. ONA