Two recently released studies indicate oxybenzone is associated with adverse effects on pregnant women and newborns. It has also now been linked to a birth defect called Hirschsprung’s Disease.
We all might wonder why our elected state leaders are fussing with drinking straws and suntan lotion, rather than dealing with the economy, the environment and other slightly more important issues.
Well, the effort continued last week in the Senate. It actually began with Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine.
Part of the bill in progress calls for a $25,000 fine for any municipality or county that prohibits the sale of some sunscreens. It looks like the Senate prohibition on any municipal ban of plastic straws will continue, though the stiff penalties have been waived.
Hutson, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development, also had wanted any city that didn’t toe the state line on sunscreens and soft drink straws to be declared “off limits” for any of the $50 million in tourism marketing handed out by Visit Florida. It appears he’s backed off that, at least for the time being — or this session.
Studies show chemicals in some sunscreens have been shown to have detrimental effects on coral reefs — oxybenzone in particular. According to manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, oxybenzone studies have led to “widespread disinformation about the effects of the chemical on coral reef bleaching.” Yet, the chemical has been banned in Hawaii, Palau, Bonaire and Aruba.
It’s also worth noting that Johnson & Johnson — along with Walmart and Publix — are registered to lobby for SB 588 in Tallahassee.
Two other studies recently released indicate oxybenzone is associated with adverse effects on pregnant women and newborns. It has also now been linked to a birth defect called Hirschsprung’s Disease. It develops in the first trimester of pregnancy and stops nerve cells from developing in the colon and rectum. This prevents newborns from passing stool, usually requiring surgical intervention.
Two months ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration delisted oxybenzone from being generally recognized as safe and effective.
Health & Human Services’ National Toxicology Program has run tests showing oxybenzone can cause endocrine disruption to reproductive physiology, including lower sperm density, reduced prostate size, changes in estrous cycles, lower testosterone levels in boys, decreased birth weight, delayed breast development and reduction to immunities.
For his part, Hutson told news sources that sunscreen bans are “silly” because the lotions protect us from sunburns.
He wants credible science on his side before allowing the ban. The USDA and HHS apparently are not credible enough for the senator. And he’s going to have both plastic straws and sunscreen studied by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability — an arm of the Legislature. Perfect.
Oh, and as long as these “studies” go on, the ban on straws and sunscreens is on “pause” for local governments.
A version of this editorial first appeared in the Ocala Star-Banner, a News Herald sister paper with GateHouse Media.