The Key West City Commission will take a first look and vote on the issue Tuesday during its 6 p.m. meeting at City Hall. A second vote at a future meeting is required to make it a law, punishable by a $100 fine.
If approved, the law wouldn’t go into effect for a year, giving retailers time to phase out the targeted sunscreens. After that, it will cost them $100 a sale if they deviate from the ordinance.
One Florida dermatologist, who is also a Ph.D scientist, says he supports the ban on sunscreen containing the two ingredients. He said that sunscreen is only one layer of protection from the sun, along with clothing and sun shades.
“This proposed ordinance will not prevent people from being able to protect themselves,” said Dr. John Strasswimmer, a research professor of biochemistry and a clinical professor of dermatology at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. “If the ordinance goes into effect, people will still have a very good choice of environmentally friendly sunscreen available.”
Strasswimmer believes the chemical-based sunscreens with oxybenzone are harmful to the reef. As a scuba diver, he is concerned about the effects of sunscreen chemicals on the reef.
He prefers a mineral-based sunscreen, ones with zinc or titanium. The problem is, he sometimes travels to places where he doesn’t have an option.
“I always reach for a mineral sunscreen, that’s my personal preference,” Strasswimmer said. But often, when he takes flights, he can’t bring his own and sometimes has to settle for chemical-based sunscreens. “I use that when need be,” he said.