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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Parents Now Can't Be Trusted on Sunscreen Decisions for their Children?

"If you have ten thousand regulations, you destroy all respect for the law."

Winston Churchill must be turning over in his grave.  

Although the school summer holidays are less than two months away, many children are at risk of sunburn while governing bodies – schools and local education authorities – remain hesitant about what they can and can't do when it comes to applying sunscreen to pupils. Clearly parents have a responsibility to dress their child appropriately for the weather, but there are no fixed sun safety guidelines or policies for schools in England to follow. The British Skin Foundation is looking to change this and has launched a petition for the government to clarify this issue – epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/32565 – and thus reduce the number of children who will burn during school hours.  We need to tackle this issue; otherwise the skin cancer problem we face in the UK is likely to keep repeating itself for years to come.

Matthew Patey
Chief executive, British Skin Foundation

And just when the government rules on the petition and provides clarification on how much and when sunscreen should be applied to children by parents (because the parents can't figure it out themselves),  whatever will the government experts say when they read the report that sunscreen can contain carcinogens that may cause cancer and other health problems?

Common chemicals found in household products, cosmetics and medicines may be causing cancers, fertility problems and other illnesses including diabetes and obesity, according to a study.

Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA, said: "Scientific research gathered over the last few decades shows us that endocrine disruption is a real problem, with serious effects on wildlife, and possibly people. It would be prudent to take a precautionary approach to many of these chemicals until their effects are more fully understood."

She singled out for particular scrutiny five classes of chemicals: phthalates, often found in pesticides; bisphenol A and other PCBs, used to make plastics and sometimes, controversially, used to make baby's feeding bottles; parabens, found increasingly in sunscreen; and the chemicals used in contraceptive pills.

So what's a parent to do?  Wait for the school to receive guidance from the government so as to instruct parents on whether and how to apply sunscreen for their children...or not?  Either way, children can't be totally protected by the government.  The nanny state can only do so much.

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