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senate Bill S. 1375

Should the FDA Develop ‘Reef Safe’ Label Standards for Sunscreens?

Argument in favor

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are linked to numerous problems for marine life that live around coral reefs. As such, sunscreen customers who want to be environmentally friendly should be able to buy sunscreens that are clearly labeled as “reef safe” due to lack of these (and other reef-harming) ingredients.

burrkitty's Opinion
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08/10/2019
Reef systems around the world are already struggling with bleaching events and pollution. Sunscreen smothers the coral polyps and hasten the demise of our most important fish habitats. Even if you don’t care about the environment, if you like to eat fish you should be on board with finding ways to protect their nurseries. Reed Safe products are already many places in the US Oceania, and in island countries around the world. I think it’s a good idea to do what we can and this is a relatively small thing that can make a big impact in protecting our ocean system.
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jimK's Opinion
···
08/10/2019
Is this the most pressing issue of the day? NO! Are people generally concerned about environmental ecosystems? YES! Can the FDA provide this service without spending excessive taxpayer dollars? YES! So this is an easy to achieve goal, that many if not most would want, it is a step toward protecting ocean ecosystems- so YES do it. ... ... When I was young my beloved grandmother had a saying: “Every little bit helps, said the old man as he peed into the ocean”. Kind of the same principal here.
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Joanne 's Opinion
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08/10/2019
Save the reefs. Save the oceans. Save the planet. Oh, yeah and us too.
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Argument opposed

Reef-safe sunscreens are less effective than sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate and their widespread use could increase the incidence of skin cancer and potentially lead to a public health crisis. That’s not a risk worth taking when considering the other environmental factors harming coral reefs.

NoHedges's Opinion
···
08/10/2019
This is already being done in the US Virgin Islands I would prefer congress focus on protecting the ACTUAL GOD DAMN VOTERS, to include future voters. Key Points Question What is the maximum plasma concentration of active ingredients of various types of sunscreen formulations under maximal use conditions? Findings In this randomized clinical trial that included 24 healthy participants and application of 4 commercially available sunscreen formulations, maximum plasma concentrations (geometric mean [coefficient of variation]) for the active ingredient avobenzone were 4.0 (60.9%), 3.4 (77.3%), 4.3 (46.1%), and 1.8 (32.1%) ng/mL for 2 different sprays, a lotion, and a cream, respectively. Meaning The systemic absorption of sunscreen active ingredients supports the need for further studies to determine the clinical significance of these findings. 🎯Translation:There is scientific evidence that some of the chemicals in sun screen may be harmful to HUMANS (these are the species that vote). ❌Coral reefs do not vote 💄Protect the voters,
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ColonelMoose's Opinion
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08/10/2019
Seriously??? Sunscreen??? That’s how you’re spending our time and tax dollars??? Do these people even take their jobs seriously anymore?
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ark4162's Opinion
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08/10/2019
The 10th amendment says "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Now show me the page, section or paragraph in the Constitution where is says the federal government should have anything to do with drugs, medicine, treatments, prevention or general health care in any way.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
    IntroducedMay 8th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 1375?

This bill — the Reef Safe Act of 2019 — would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop standards for a “Reef Safe” label for sunscreens. In developing this criteria, the FDA would be required to consider active sunscreen ingredients’ effects on marine wildlife’s mortality and development and consult with appropriate federal agency heads, including the EPA Administrator and NOAA Administrator.

These criteria would be established no more than two years after this bill’s enactment and would be reviewed at least every 10 years thereafter.

Impact

Sunscreen; FDA; FDA regulation of sunscreens; “Reef Safe” label for sunscreens; EPA Administrator; and NOAA Administrator.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1375

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced this bill as part of a pair of bills to address the growing threat that sunscreen chemicals pose to coral reefs around the world and to study these chemicals’ impact on human health and the environment. This bill would specifically require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop standards for a “Reef Safe” label for sunscreens

“While sun protection is incredibly important, we need to take action if these chemicals are harming human health or our environment. Understanding the full impact of these chemicals on our bodies and on marine life is a critical first step to making sure that we aren’t inadvertently putting ourselves or our planet in danger when we put on sunscreen for a day at the beach.”

The other bill that Sen. Merkley introduced along with this legislation is the Oxybenzone and Octinoxate Impact Study Act of 2019 (S. 1371 / H.R. 2588), which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study those two chemicals’ effects on human health and the environment.

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA), the sunscreen industry’s lobbying organization, argues that banning oxybenzone and octinoxate would reduce sunscreens’ efficacy, harming people’s health

“[Moving away from oxybenzone and octinoxate would] ban at least 70 percent of the sunscreens on the market today, based on weak science blaming sunscreens for damage to coral reefs. This irresponsible action will make it more difficult for families to protect themselves against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that excess sun exposure without effective sunscreen increases the risk of developing skin cancer in both adults and children. Banning oxybenzone and octinoxate – key ingredients in effective sunscreens on the market – will drastically and unnecessarily reduce the selection of safe and effective sunscreen products available to residents and visitors. Oxybenzone and octinoxate, found in the majority of sunscreens, are safe and effective over-the-counter (OTC) active ingredients recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as important aides in decreasing the risk of developing skin cancer, the most common cancer in the U.S.”

The CHPA also contends that “global warming, agricultural runoff, sewage, and overfishing,” not sunscreen, are the true causes of coral decline. It argues that reducing oxybenzone and octinoxate would create ‘false hope” for coral restoration alongside a public health crisis.

This bill doesn’t have any cosponsors. Its House companion, sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), has one cosponsor, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH).


Of NoteOxybenzone and octinoxate, which can act as endocrine disruptors that harm coral’s DNA and make it difficult for coral to survive climate change, are ingredients in many commercial sunscreens. Both chemicals can also harm sea turtle eggs, shellfish, sea urchins and dolphins. They’ve also been linked to decreasing fish fertility, impaired algae growth and defects in mussel young.

There are also potential harms to humans from oxybenzone and octinoxate. Earlier this year, the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research released a study showing that a single day of sunscreen use is enough for the chemicals in it to enter the bloodstream.

However, it’s worth noting that the implications of the FDA study are still unclear. Yale School of Medicine dermatologist Dr. David Leffell, a spokesman for the American Academy of Dermatology, says, “Studies need to be performed to evaluate this finding and determine whether there are true medical implications to absorption of certain ingredients.” 

Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an advocacy group that publishes a yearly guide on sunscreens, adds

“It's not news that things that you put on your skin are absorbed into the body. This study is the FDA's way of showing sunscreen manufacturers they need to do the studies to see if chemical absorption poses health risks."

Hawaii, Palau (a nation in the Pacific), and Key West have all recently banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate because they cause coral bleaching and are dangerous to marine ecosystems. Additionally, sunscreen products in many EU countries have mostly replaced oxybenzone and octinoxate with newer, more protective substances that block out more UVB and UVA rays. However, those newer products haven’t passed the FDA’s safety tests yet, so oxybenzone remains in use — in fact, it’s in two-thirds of all chemically-based sunscreens sold in the U.S. 

The National Park Service reports that 4,000-6,000 tons of sunscreen enter reef areas around the world each year. In a recent article, National Geographic estimated even more dire numbers, estimating that 14,000 tons of sunscreen wash into the oceans each year. The Park Service also notes that coral reefs — which cover less than 1% of the ocean floor but serve as home to nearly one million species of fish — are threatened by many types of sunscreen. 

Reef safe sunscreens should list titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as their only active ingredients. They should also have natural, plant-based inactive ingredients, such as organic sunflower oil and organic beeswax. 


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Placebo365)

AKA

Reef Safe Act of 2019

Official Title

A bill to require the Commissioner of Food and Drugs to develop standards for a "Reef Safe" label for sunscreen.

    Reef systems around the world are already struggling with bleaching events and pollution. Sunscreen smothers the coral polyps and hasten the demise of our most important fish habitats. Even if you don’t care about the environment, if you like to eat fish you should be on board with finding ways to protect their nurseries. Reed Safe products are already many places in the US Oceania, and in island countries around the world. I think it’s a good idea to do what we can and this is a relatively small thing that can make a big impact in protecting our ocean system.
    Like (63)
    Follow
    Share
    This is already being done in the US Virgin Islands I would prefer congress focus on protecting the ACTUAL GOD DAMN VOTERS, to include future voters. Key Points Question What is the maximum plasma concentration of active ingredients of various types of sunscreen formulations under maximal use conditions? Findings In this randomized clinical trial that included 24 healthy participants and application of 4 commercially available sunscreen formulations, maximum plasma concentrations (geometric mean [coefficient of variation]) for the active ingredient avobenzone were 4.0 (60.9%), 3.4 (77.3%), 4.3 (46.1%), and 1.8 (32.1%) ng/mL for 2 different sprays, a lotion, and a cream, respectively. Meaning The systemic absorption of sunscreen active ingredients supports the need for further studies to determine the clinical significance of these findings. 🎯Translation:There is scientific evidence that some of the chemicals in sun screen may be harmful to HUMANS (these are the species that vote). ❌Coral reefs do not vote 💄Protect the voters,
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    Is this the most pressing issue of the day? NO! Are people generally concerned about environmental ecosystems? YES! Can the FDA provide this service without spending excessive taxpayer dollars? YES! So this is an easy to achieve goal, that many if not most would want, it is a step toward protecting ocean ecosystems- so YES do it. ... ... When I was young my beloved grandmother had a saying: “Every little bit helps, said the old man as he peed into the ocean”. Kind of the same principal here.
    Like (36)
    Follow
    Share
    Save the reefs. Save the oceans. Save the planet. Oh, yeah and us too.
    Like (29)
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    Yes, when the reefs die, the ocean dies, when the ocean dies we die. if that is not enough for people to take this seriously what is?
    Like (22)
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    The FDA must act on behalf of the people and the planet, not big business.
    Like (19)
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    Absolutely. How about just listing all ingredients that should never be used and banning any sunscreen products that use those ingredients. We did this for CFCs that destroy the ozone.
    Like (14)
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    This effort shouldn’t require much in the way of an investment. We pretty much know which chemicals kill off coral reefs the only other thing to do is setup labeling standards to easily identify coral safe products.
    Like (12)
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    Coral reefs are critical for the health of our seas around the world! Runoff from the use of sunscreen is just one things that harms reefs, but we need to ensure that are underwater ecosystems are protected!
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    Continue to show the sun screen protection number as we now have. If a product is also reef safe add that label.
    Like (9)
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    👍🏻👍🏻 Senate bill S. 1375 AKA the Reef Safe Act of 2019 👍🏻👍🏻 lm in support of and recommend the passage of the Senate bill S. 1375 AKA the Reef Safe Act of 2019 which would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop standards for a “Reef Safe” label for sunscreens. In developing this criteria, the FDA would be required to consider active sunscreen ingredients’ effects on marine wildlife’s mortality and development and consult with appropriate federal agency heads, including the EPA Administrator and NOAA Administrator. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are linked to numerous problems for marine life that live around coral reefs. As such, sunscreen customers who want to be environmentally friendly should be able to buy sunscreens that are clearly labeled as “reef safe” due to lack of these (and other reef-harming) ingredients. SneakyPete..... 🤷🏼‍♂️👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻🤷‍♀️. 8.10.19.....
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    Save the reefs but in a way that’s safe to stop skin cancer as well!
    Like (7)
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    Yes, the EU nations have already developed more protective reef sunscreens although the FDA continues to drag their feet on testing just like they do with life saving medications. Preserve our reefs!
    Like (7)
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    Worldwide, reefs are in decline and indicates ocean health. The less we contribute to their decline the better.
    Like (7)
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    We need to protect our environment any way we can.
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    Coral reefs are the infrastructure of the sea
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    Yes, but Trump will not allow anything to hurt profits.
    Like (6)
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    This planet won’t last forever!
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    Yes, better to be safe.
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    Seems like a pretty simple thing to do being that almost every other western nation in the world is done it. In the net outcome of this it’s pretty simple if the ocean doesn’t have reefs we don’t have air to breathe food to eat. It’s really that simple. And that drastic.
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