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Sun lotion notion gets devotion, motion

The City Council today took the first step towards installing sunscreen dispensers in city parks: Approving a motion for a hearing on the idea.

City Councilor Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain), who proposed the dispensers, said it could be done at no cost to taxpayers if the the city partners with a sunscreen company or local health-care institution to fund the $100 to $200 cost of the dispensers. He said this is how Miami is paying for its free sunscreen.

O'Malley, who said he filed the proposal at the behest of a Tufts Medical School graduate, said the sunscreen itself would help the city curb its skin-cancer rates - he said Massachusetts actually has a higher melanoma rate than Florida. But he added that just their presence in visible locations in parks could spur sunscreen use by providing "a visual reminder to apply sunscreen and reapply it."

He proposed initially installing the dispensers in a few high-use parks, such as the Common, Jamaica Pond and Millennium Park.

Councilor Sal LaMattina (East Boston, Charlestown, North End) said the proposal was a great idea. LaMattina, who said he recently had to have a procedure to remove a basal-cell carcinoma, recalled growing up in an Italian neighborhood where nobody knew from sunscreen.

Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury) joked he once would have thought the idea would have served only the tiny minority of Boston residents who are red headed. But he said that on a recent vacation, he learned that even darker-hued residents such as himself need to apply at least SPF 15 sunscreen - when the skin on his shoulder began peeling after a long day in the sun without a shirt.

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Comments

If we're giving out things in parks can they also add water fountains? We have some of the best, cheapest public water in the country. It's an easy way to combat plastic bottles and even obesity. It's great for public health and makes parks more enjoyable for everyone.

Yet they are uncommon where they should be ubiquitous.

Put sunscreen dispensers if they must but why not also install something which is even more useful to everyone and cheap to operate while they are at it.

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A couple of years ago, O'Malley was pushing a similar effort to get more water fountains - including models that would let you fill up a refillable water bottle.

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Yet I still have a hard time finding a fountain.

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Shoulda been looking for a bubblah.

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heck - I'd be happy if the city fixed the ones they already have.

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Dehydrated Plane Crash Survivor Who Cannot Walk: Ahh, I am so thirsty...and the nearest help is stuck in 2 hours of traffic...
(The sun pokes out of the clouds momentarily to reveal what appears to be a water fountain just inches away)
Dehydrated Plane Crash Survivor Who Cannot Walk: Water! Water! Oh my god, thanks City of Boston for all the free water!
(Attempts to drink; sunscreen comes out)
Dehydrated Plane Crash Survivor Who Cannot Walk: What? My plans hath been foiled! Noooooo!

(All but one person survived the crash in downtown Boston, and the last person dehydrated to death whilst the fire trucks and ambulances were stuck in traffic just a few blocks away, honking at Sox fans)

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Unfortunately a lot of the public space in our city is controlled by MassDCR, not the city parks department.

O'Malley did get this one installed:

http://jamaicaplaingazette.com/2013/10/25/new-bubbler-installed-at-jamai...

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One concern I have with the ubiquitousness of sunscreen is that if you're slathering it on because "hey it's free" and "I don't want skin cancer" even if you're only walking from one end of the Common to the other...if you use it basically any time you're going to be outside for a minute, then you can run an actual risk of Vitamin D deficiency. We actually *need* UV exposure, we just don't need sunbathing levels of it.

Providing free sunscreen everywhere people go only serves to solidify the myth that sun = cancer. It's really too much sun = cancer.

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As someone who suffers from very Low Vitamin D3 levels, I second that. My doctor actually told me to get some sun and use a very low SPF (15) number for some protection to assist with Vitamin D3 levels (along with supplements I take). Sun is GOOD for you.. very good for you, but like everything else, it's good in small doses, not a lot.

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"Too much will hurt you. I'm not saying food is bad in any way, It's just that you need to know a limit."

(I go home and get some REAL BBQ runnin', don't stop until I've taken a good step towards the land of gluttony and fatness and diabetes and gettin a few good passengers angry on the next Red line train)

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However, a lot depends on your own complexion, and the time that you go out.

I tan very easily and only use sunscreen if I'm going to be out for a long time, and during the more dangerous mid-day period (an all-day bike ride, for example). I won't use it if I'm just bike commuting in the morning or evening, or out for a 15 minute walk at lunch.

But some people, like my MIL, mother, and younger son, really can't spend much if any time out at mid-day without sun protection or they will get a nasty sunburn, even when I'm with them and I don't burn. Within the "fair skinned" category there are differences.

Most people can handle early morning and evening sun just fine without sunscreen, and that may be the safest time to get that vitamin D.

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We dont need the whole city smelling like a bottle of Banana Boat!

Also i'd prefer to have the city install (waste money) hand warmer for the winter months.

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While I don't think it affects the core of the proposal, the CDC's most recent per-state melanoma statistics disagree with Councilor O'Malley: Massachusetts in fact had fewer instances of melanoma and fewer melanoma deaths than Florida did in 2011. (both per-capita and in absolute numbers)

http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/statistics/state.htm

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We can't know that, but it is fun to ask.

One would expect MA to have fewer cases of Melanoma because the entire state lies between 41 and 43 degrees North latitude, while Florida ranges from 24 to 31. Even adjusting for ethnicity and age, the potential for damaging sun exposure is a lot higher in Florida.

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Silly waste of time and resources. Working toilets and working water fountains please. visitors should be providing their own sunscreen. Wait til someone uses the "city's" sun screen and they get an alergic reaction? Law suit.

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The city's public restrooms in parks and the pay toilets have all been miserable failures. Either permanently closed or perpetually broken.

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It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets sunburned again.

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How about making sure there's enough shade? The Greenway and City Hall Plaza come to mind.

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