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Pol: Schools Should Permit Student Use of Sunscreen

Aims At Avoiding Severe Sunburns

In an effort to increase cancer prevention and sun poisoning, State Sen. Michael Gianaris has introduced a bill that would change state Department of Education (NYSED) regulations regarding the application of sunscreen in schools and summer camps to ensure that children are able to apply sunscreen when spending time outside.

According to Gianaris, NYSED and the Federal Food and Drug Administration include sunscreen in their lists of over-the-counter drugs. Current NYSED guidelines state that schools should require a note from a doctor as well as parental consent for a child to use over-the-counter medicines like sunscreen during school hours. Summer camps also follow these guidelines.

Gianaris’s bill would require only a note from a parent and erase the need for a doctor’s note in order for children to put on sunscreen while in school or at camp.

“At a time when we are trying to increase cancer prevention, it is senseless for schools to make it more difficult for children to use sunscreen,” Gianaris said. “It should not be necessary to pass legislation to realize this common sense solution, however that is exactly what we will do if regulations are not changed.”

Gianaris’s proposal has caused NYSED to review its policy.

The bill was prompted by an incident in Washington State in which two young girls were hospitalized from severe sunburns after having spent many hours outside participating in their school’s field day.

They were not allowed to put on sunscreen because, similar to New York’s guidelines, Washington requires a doctor’s and parent’s note in order for children to apply sunscreen while in school.

Studies have shown that longterm, unprotected overexposure to ultraviolet light causes up to 90 percent of all skin cancers, which are the most common form of cancer in this country. Most skin damage occurs before the age of 18.

Even if a child’s sunburn or tan fades, the skin damage remains and, with each new sunburn or tan, that damage could accumulate and result in skin cancer later in life.

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