State bill would require prescription for some sunscreens to protect the environment

Reporter: Sydney Persing
Published: Updated:
If used correctly, sunscreen can cause vitamin D deficiency, experts say. But the relationship between the vitamin and skin care is nuanced. (CNN)

A Florida lawmaker wants to limit what kinds of sunscreen you can buy as certain chemicals are bad for the environment. Now, experts fear the legislation will stop people from protecting themselves at the beach from UV rays altogether.

Sunscreen saves lives and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention researchers agree. While it is everywhere, one Florida lawmaker wants to change that.

Sen. Linda Stewart says two chemicals in sunscreen that doctors said do the best job protecting our skin, oxybenzone and octinoxate, threaten our coral reefs. The senator wants to make sunscreen with those two chemicals available by prescription only.

Dr. Robert Hawkes, the director of Florida Gulf Coast University’s physician assistant program, said the two chemicals are critical to everyone. “They’re designed to absorb the ultraviolet rays into the skin,” he said, “which is designed to reduce the chance of the person obtaining skin cancer.”

The American Cancer Society said doctors would diagnose over 96,000 people with melanoma this year. The fear is by making sunscreen more difficult to obtain, those numbers will skyrocket.

Trista Norrgare, who is visiting, believes the legislation is not practical. “I don’t want to come down here to go to a doctor’s appointment to get a prescription for sunscreen,” she said. “We’re here to be on vacation.”

But not everyone on the beach dismissed the idea of sunscreen by prescription, including Carole Weiland, who is visiting. “If it’s getting a prescription to protect chemicals from getting in the water,” Weiland said, “then that’s what we do.”

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.