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State expands program offering free sunscreen at state park pools and beaches

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    HARRISBURG, Pa. (WPMT) — The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and National Resources announced the expansion of a program offering visitors free sunscreen at state park beaches and swimming pools across the state.

“We are extremely grateful that the Department of Health and its Division of Cancer Prevention is again partnering with us to support and expand this important project,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said Thursday in a press release. “With the approach of July Fourth signaling the ‘Fun in the Sun’ season’s in full swing, we want to promote safe outdoor activity, while reminding outdoors enthusiasts that more than 8,500 Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each day.

“These dispensers should prove invaluable to visitors to our lakes, beaches, and pools who may overlook sunscreen when packing for a day’s outing.”

The DCNR program began in the summer of 2017, when the Bureau of State Parks began supplying free sunscreen at Fuller Lake in the Pine Grove Furnace State Park, located in Cumberland County, and the Codorus State Park swimming pool in York County.

It has now been expanded to 13 state parks and a swimming beach at Presque Isle in Erie County, the DCNR said.

Beyond Presque Isle’s Beach No. 6, free sunscreen dispensers are offered for the first time at swimming pools at Mount Pisgah State Park, Bradford County, and Marsh Creek State Park, Chester County, and lake swimming areas at Cowans Gap State Park, Fulton County, and Beltzville State Park, Carbon County.

Feedback from Pine Grove Furnace and Codorus state parks encouraged DCNR to expand by adding additional parks to what began as a pilot program, Dunn said.

Other state parks offering sunscreen include:

Bald Eagle (beach), Centre County
Gifford Pinchot (beach), York County
Nockamixon (swimming pool), Bucks County
Little Buffalo, Perry County
Laurel Hill, Somerset County
Presque Isle, Erie County
Caledonia, Franklin County
Before this summer’s expansion, Dunn said, the Bureau of State Parks noted the sunscreen dispenser program had the potential of reaching more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians. Some of the recently added locations are within counties reporting a high incidence of melanoma, a life-threatening form of skin cancer, Dunn said.

Health officials report one in 40 Pennsylvanians will be diagnosed with melanoma in their lifetime.

For a fourth year, all park costs are again covered by the Department of Health’s Cancer Fund, with each park receiving close to $750 worth of equipment to participate, according to Dunn.

Throughout the summer season, state park staff will oversee and maintain sunscreen dispensers, Dunn said. Two pole-mounted, battery-operated dispensers, supplying 30+ SPF BrightGuard sunscreen applications, will be positioned at each park.

Sunscreen ingredients are listed on sides of the tamper-proof units by the company, which has provided educational training for park staff.

Experts say daily application of a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher can aid in prevention of skin cancer, Dunn said.

At season’s end, the Bureau of State Parks will continue to evaluate the program to determine if further expansion is warranted. It also is pursuing opportunities to collaborate with local health organizations for future expansion of the program.

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