Mislabeled Sunscreen and the Risks of Sunburns

In the summer, and especially in the summer in Florida (i.e. the “Sunshine State”), people worry about the strength of the sun and how its rays affect their bodies and overall health. Unfortunately, a recent study might have given people something else to worry about – according to the study, 43% of sunscreens actually had less SPF (“sun protection factor”) than the bottle indicated. As our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg & Aronberg know, with sunburns serving as a prime risk factor for the development of skin cancer, this is troublesome.

According to the EPA, in 2009 (the last year for which data was provided), roughly 4,920 Florida residents were diagnosed with melanoma. Further, about 625 Floridians die every year because of melanoma, which itself is responsible for about 75% of all skin cancer deaths. The trend is not in our favor. According to the EPA’s website dedicated to informing the public on skin cancer risks and prevention in Florida, since 1981, the rate of new melanoma diagnoses among white males has increased by an astounding 74%, while the rate of new melanoma diagnoses has increased by 43% among females. This means that even as we become more aware, as a society, of the harmful effects of the sun’s rays, we are unable – or unwilling – to adequately protect ourselves.

According to the EPA, some helpful tips to help prevent skin cancer include: 1) do not burn; overexposure to the sun is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer; 2) avoid sun tanning and tanning beds, as the UV light from the sun and the beds cause skin cancer as well as wrinkling; 3) use sunscreen – generously apply broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and reapply at least every 2 hours, as well as after swimming or sweating; 4) cover up with long-sleeve shirts, hats and UVA/UVB protected sunglasses, and 5) sit in the shade when the sun is at its strongest, usually between 10 AM and 4 PM.

Now, that third tip – about applying sunscreen –  is where the trouble discussed in this blog comes in. A diligent advice-follower might well heed the EPA’s advice and head to the drugstore to pick up a bottle of sunscreen with a designated SPF. The problem, as our personal injury lawyers know, is exactly what the study pointed out: a lot of the sunscreen is mislabeled and the actual SPF content is lower than what the bottle says it is. The research group, from Consumer Reports, actually reached out to brands such as CVS and Banana Boat because their sunscreen in particular contained SPF at a significantly lower level than advertised. (Both Banana Boat and CVS disagreed, claiming their sunscreen was as advertised.)

Though we are certainly not doctors, our personal injury lawyers at Aronberg & Aronberg feel it might make sense to purchase and apply sunscreen of a higher SPF than you might ordinarily apply, just to be safe. That way, even if the sunscreen actually contains less SPF than the bottle says, you’ll still be applying the same or higher SPF than you ordinarily would. Don’t worry; you’ll still get a tan even with sunscreen on.

It should be noted, of course, that melanoma is treatable and new developments are making it increasingly likely that someone who gets skin cancer will be able to recover from it. That said, as our personal injury lawyers know, it is a far better idea to be safe, and use appropriate sunscreen, than to just hope for the best.

If you have any questions about mislabeled products or if you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligence or wrongdoing of another, please contact our Delray Beach personal injury lawyers at Aronberg & Aronberg by calling 561-266-9191 or by e-mailing us at daronberg@build.simple.biz. Please get in touch to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you!

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