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Parents who use spray-on sunscreen to help ensure wriggly or on-the-move children get protection from damaging UV rays, take note. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating to determine the effectiveness of spray-on sunscreens and whether they pose a health risk if they are accidentally inhaled.

The move was contained in a series of updates to sunscreen protection rules announced by the agency last month. But this week, the influential magazine Consumer Reports weighed in, asking parents to avoid using sunscreen in spray form until the FDA finishes its analysis.

Although a person of any age could unintentionally inhale potentially harmful ingredients from spray-on sunscreens, Consumer Reports says this risk is greatest in children, who are more likely to be moving around when the sunscreen is applied.

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The news adds to already-brewing concerns over the safety of sunscreens.

Environmental groups and consumer advocates have voiced concern over ingredients contained in some sunscreens, such as oxybenzone, a suspected hormone disruptor, and retinyl palmitate, which has been linked in some animal studies to an increased risk of cancer.

Earlier this year, Consumer Reports advised pregnant women to avoid sunscreens containing retinyl palmitate over fears it could be linked to an increased risk of birth defects.

The FDA also says it is investigating to determine if spray-on sunscreens are as effective as other products, because "sprays are applied differently from other sunscreen dosage forms, such as lotions and sticks."

Will this news affect your next sunscreen purchase? What do your kids wear currently?

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About the Author

Carly Weeks has been a journalist with The Globe and Mail since 2007.  She has reported on everything from federal politics to the high levels of sodium in the Canadian diet. More

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