State senators set to pass legislation preempting local sunscreen bans

Sen. Bradley says the bill will help prevent skin cancer by encouraging sunscreen use.

The Florida Senate is poised to vote on Republican State Sen. Bradley’s legislation’s preempting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreen.

Senators moved the bill (HB 172) to third reading Wednesday, but did not vote on it. Senate President Bill Galvano said he supports the legislation and plans to vote in favor of it.

Bradley referenced his own troubles with skin cancer and noted that Florida is second in the nation for cases of melanoma. The group Aim at Melanoma verifies that data. Additional data compiled in 2016 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the states with the highest rates of skin cancer are Utah, Vermont and Minnesota

Bradley and the companion bill sponsor Rep. Spencer Roach introduced legislation after the City of Key West’s banned sunscreen containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. Environmental groups believe they contribute to the bleaching of coral reefs. Bradley, however, calls that “junk science.”

Bradley points to the Florida’s Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability’s analysis of 18 studies looking at those chemicals as proof that there’s a lack of science proving sunscreen with oxybenzone and octinoxate cause coral reef damage. 

The Peer-reviewed studies compiled by OPPGA found the chemicals in sunscreens have negative effects on corals and marine life when exposed to “concentration levels generally not observed in nature.” 

But the sponsors say the sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate only contain a maximum concentration level of 7.5%.

OPPGA also found the chemicals may also be found in seawater from “wastewater effluent, leaching from plastics, and leaching from hull paints on ships.” 

The U.S. Department of Commerce has also found sunscreen and other cosmetics contain chemicals that can harm marine life. 

Orlando Democratic State Sen. Linda Stewart introduced legislation (SB 318) prohibiting the sale of sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate to consumers without a prescription. But it has yet to receive a committee hearing.

Sarah Mueller

Sarah Mueller has extensive experience covering public policy. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010. She began her career covering local government in Texas, Georgia and Colorado. She returned to school in 2016 to earn a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting. Since then, she’s worked in public radio covering state politics in Illinois, Florida and Delaware. If you'd like to contact her, send an email to [email protected].


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