Rhode Island’s Natural Sunscreen Dispensers Help Protect People and Marine Life

Terri Flori helps her son Kai apply sunscreen from a dispenser at Scarborough State Beach in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Terri Flori helps her son Kai apply sunscreen from a dispenser at Scarborough State Beach in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

The Rhode Island Department of Health will install more free sunscreen dispensers at state beaches and parks, expanding its successful program making sun safety a priority. Too much time in the sun can increase your risk of getting skin cancer. One way people can reduce skin cancer risk is by using sunscreen.

In May 2019, Rhode Island installed sunscreen dispensers at eight beaches and eight state parks. The sunscreen in these dispensers is completely natural with active ingredients recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. During summer 2019, visitors used the dispensers more than 75,000 times. In 2020, Rhode Island converted the sunscreen pumps to touch-free dispensers. This was done to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases. In summer 2021, the program installed dispensers at two more beaches. Millions of Rhode Islanders and out-of-state visitors enjoy Rhode Island state parks and beaches each year. A goal of this project is to install sunscreen dispensers in each state park and beach, making free sunscreen available to all visitors. The department of health also hopes to bring the program to public parks in Rhode Island’s cities and towns.

A complimentary sunscreen dispenser at a state beach park in Rhode Island.

A complimentary sunscreen dispenser at a state beach park in Rhode Island.

The sunscreen program’s success is because of partnerships with public agencies and private companies. Funding and other support for this program comes from the Rhode Island Department of Health, Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island, and CDC’s National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. Other partners include Rhode Island Parks, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, and South County Dermatology. Protecting marine life is also a priority for this program, so the Rhode Island Department of Health contracted with a company to provide certified natural sunscreen that protects humans from the sun without harming marine life.

“The new sunscreen dispensers are one way to help prevent more skin cancers and save more lives,” said George Andoscia, acting program manager for Rhode Island’s Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. “People can also feel more comfortable getting their sunscreen from these touch-free dispensers.”