Southern California environment news and trends

FDA: Sun and sunscreen is bad for babies under six months old

With the summer season peaking, kids out of school on vacation and temperatures soaring across the country, outdoor activities are in full swing. But if that family outing includes a baby under the age of six months, a recent consumer update from the U. S. Food & Drug Administration says extra precautions need to be taken in order to keep them safe from the sun’s harmful rays, including not exposing them to sunscreen.

“The best approach is to keep infants under 6 months out of the sun,” said Cheryl Sachs, a pediatrician at the FDA in the consumer update, “and to avoid exposure to the sun in the hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when ultraviolet (UV) rays are most intense.”

The thinness of a baby’s skin makes them much more susceptible to the chemicals found in most sunscreen products, as does as a high surface-area to body-weight ratio compared to older kids and adults. The FDA recommends keeping little ones in shaded areas as much as possible, and to dress them in hats and clothing that protect sensitive skin areas.

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FDA nixes proposed ban on food packaging chemical

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has denied a petition to ban a plastic-hardening chemical common to food and drink packaging such as bottles and cans.

The FDA has decided that there is not enough evidence proving that the chemical known as bisphenol A (AKA BPA) is hazardous to human health, and would need to see the data from federal studies currently being conducted before considering such a ban.

“The information provided in your petition was not sufficient to persuade FDA, at this time, to initiate rulemaking to prohibit the use of BPA in human food and food packaging,” David H. Horsey, an acting associate FDA commissioner, said in a letter to the Natural Resources Defense Council as reported in Bloomberg.

Health advocates have been swift to criticize the FDA’s decision.

"We believe FDA made the wrong call," Sarah Janssen, senior scientist in the public health program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement to the Huffington Post. "The agency has failed to protect our health and safety ­-- in the face of scientific studies that continue to raise disturbing questions about the long-term effects of BPA exposures."

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