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Many US Schools Don’t Allow Sunscreens Without A Doctor’s Note

June 25, 2012

ABC World News (6/24, story 7, 1:45, Muir) reported, “In the final days of school a surprise lesson when it comes to sending your children to school with sunscreen. In most states, it turns out it’s illegal.”

On its website and on a segment on “Good Morning America,” ABC News (6/25, Rivero) reported that Violet and Zoe Michener, two girls in Washington State, returned home from a school field day trip “so burned that their mother rushed them to the hospital.” The girls’ “school district said it has to ban sunscreen because it’s state law.” ABC News pointed out, “Sunscreens are regulated by the FDA as an over-the-counter drug. Many American schools don’t allow them without a doctor’s note.”

It was raining when the girls departed for school, so the girls’ mother did not apply sunscreen to them, the New York Daily News (6/25, Roberts) reports. However, she “argued that even if she did apply the much-needed block, the school wouldn’t have let the girls reapply to maintain protection due to a ‘deeply flawed’ school policy.” In fact, “children in all states except for California are not allowed to apply or bring the product to school…partially because it is considered a medication,” the Daily News explained, citing ABC News’ coverage of the story. “The Tacoma mom said that the burns were particularly infuriating because the teachers didn’t make an exception for her daughter Zoe, who they know has a form of albinism, which makes her particularly susceptible to the sun’s rays.” The girls were also not allowed to wear hats per school policy.

“Since raising awareness in her area of the SPF policy, Mrs Michener began to see some success late last week” in her efforts to publicize the story, the UK’s Daily Mail (6/25, Golgowski) reports. “Receiving a call from the director of Elementary Education in Tacoma Public Schools last Thursday according to [Michener’s] blog, the director informed her of a new law passed allowing districts to decide for themselves what’s allowed and what’s not. ‘He stated that how the law will actually shake-out for districts is still to be seen…but that he hoped a policy revision could be achieved by October,’ the mother wrote.”

Lowey Criticizes FDA For Delay On Sunscreen Regulations. The Hill (6/23, Viebeck) “Healthwatch” blog reported that “Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) slammed federal health officials for allowing sunscreen makers to go another summer without disclosing the true level of protection offered by their products.” Nearly five years ago, the “the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued draft regulations to expand and clarify the information on sunscreen labels,” but just “last month, the agency announced that it would delay manufacturers’ June compliance deadline by six months.” In a statement, Lowey said, “This must be the last summer that American families endure inadequate labeling of sunscreen.”

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