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House passes bill allowing sunscreen use in schools

SALEM — The Oregon House unanimously passed legislation Wednesday allowing students to apply sunscreen or wear sun-protective clothing during school hours and at school-sponsored events.

Proponents say Oregon schools allow only specific over-the-counter drugs on their campuses, such as topical steroid creams or antihistamines, and sunscreen was not on that list.

Nikki Steinsiek, a medical student at Oregon Health & Science University, said during a hearing on the bill that because sunscreen contains several active ingredients, it is considered an over-the-counter drug by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

"Currently, school policies concerning sunscreen vary widely across Oregon because it is unclear whether students are allowed to bring and apply their own sunscreen at school," Steinsiek said.

The issue came to light when a donor wanted to contribute sunscreen to a high school sporting event in order to protect students from getting sunburned, but because Oregon's statutes are unclear on sunscreen use, school administrators declined the gift, she said.

The measure also allows school personnel to help students apply sunblock without risk of liability.

Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer, D-Portland, noted that Oregon has the fifth-highest rate of melanoma in the country. "Childhood overexposure to ultraviolet radiation is a leading cause of skin cancer," Keny-Guyer said.

The bill now goes to the Senate.