Health Minute: Sunscreen Debate

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Key West is the latest city to ban certain sunscreens with chemicals that could harm coral reefs. It won’t go into effect until 2021 but the move is already ringing alarm bells in the medical community. The American Academy Of Dermatologists is calling on key west to reconsider.


Protecting the ocean.

University of Central Florida Associate Professor of Biology John Fauth says, “In the areas where you’ve got a lot of these chemical sunscreens going in the water those corals aren’t going to come back.”

Protecting our skin.

Dermatologist Dr. Terrence Cronin says, “Our main interest is protecting patients from skin cancer.”

Two sides of a growing debate.

Exec. Director, Haereticus Environmental Laboratory Craig Downs says, “It’s not just coral. It is also toxic to fish, it’s toxic to algae. Oxybenzone is almost like an herbicide.”

UVA rays from the sun penetrate deeper layers of skin and are linked to melanoma.

UVB rays damage outer layers and cause sunburns.

While some sunscreens only block one type of ray, the American Academy Of Dermatology says Oxybenzone is among the few FDA approved ingredients able to blocks both.

Dr. Cronin says, “The AADs recommendations are based on the existing body of scientific evidence. It may evolve if science evolves but right now the research is not very persuasive.”

For those concerned about the environment, there is some middle ground

Dr. Cronin says, “Using sunscreen is just part of a comprehensive sun protection plan. Sun smart behavior is seeking out the shade, wearing sun protective clothing.”

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