Launched last May and seeing over 75,000 uses throughout the summer 2019 season, Rhode Island’s groundbreaking and effective statewide initiative of offering complimentary, environmentally-safe sunscreen dispenser stations provided by Raw Elements USA®, a certified natural sunscreen company, at all State Beaches and Parks is being brought back. Available starting on Sunday, July 12, Rhode Island continues to drive sunscreen standards forward as the nation’s pioneering State in skin cancer prevention.

As another preemptive measure made by the State’s government officials to increase the safety of its residents and guests in light of COVID-19, the dispensers have been updated from last year to be touch-free.

These efforts are brought to Rhode Island state by Governor Gina Raimondo and US Senator Jack Reed, Rhode Island Department of Health, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, The Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island, Rhode Island-based South County Dermatology and Raw Elements USA®, a certified natural sunscreen company founded by a lifelong Rhode Island lifeguard.

“As we continue to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 public health crisis, we also must remember to use sunscreen to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “I’m proud that we’ll be offering no-cost sunscreen stations at our parks and beaches again this year. We thank Raw Elements for using new, touch-free dispensers to safely help thousands of visitors take the first step toward preventing skin cancer.”

Overexposure to the sun is the leading cause of skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the U.S. By making natural sunscreen readily available throughout the State, the Ocean State is helping its millions of sun-seeking residents and visitors take the first step in reducing their risk of developing skin cancer while educating on the harmful effects of chemical sunscreen on the ocean and its marine life.

“We have worked incredibly hard to find the best automatic, touch-free dispensers out there in order to ensure we were able to keep protecting Rhode Island for 2020,” says Brian Guadagno, founder of Raw Elements Natural Sunscreen. “As a longtime Narraganset ocean lifeguard, this initiative is close to home. It feels great to help everyone in the state protect themselves and our oceans.”

Rhode Island is a national leader in driving sunscreen standards. U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), who authored the Sunscreen Innovation Act to help ensure that U.S. consumers have access to safe and effective sunscreen, stated: “When you head to the beach this summer, we want everyone to have a mask for when they’re in a crowd, and sunscreen to protect from harmful UV rays. I commend the state and all its partners for teaming up to make sunscreen more accessible to all. Sunscreen is proven to help prevent skin cancer and these dispensers help raise awareness, encourage healthy habits, and offer beachgoers free sunscreen to protect themselves.”

Released by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in May 2020, only 25% of 1,300 SPF products offer adequate protection and do not contain worrisome ingredients. With 20% non-nano zinc oxide as its sole active ingredient, Raw Elements has been rated a leading sunscreen option by the EWG for the past nine years and meets the FDA’s proposed rule on sunscreen ingredients GRASE (generally recognized as safe and effective).

“Using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more is one of the most important things you can do to protect against skin cancer,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. “Skin cancer can affect people of all skin tones and complexions, and the sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes. RIDOH is proud to partner in this critical public health effort to ensure that all Rhode Islanders who visit our State’s wonderful beaches have access to sunscreen. Sunscreen is a powerful form of prevention that saves lives!”

“For the second year, DEM is excited to join the RI Department of Health, Raw Elements and other partners to bring complimentary sunscreen to Rhode Island state parks and beaches,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “With the new, touch-free dispensers, park and beach visitors will be able to safely protect their skin from overexposure to the sun. Before you ride the waves at Misquamicut State Beach or hike the trails at Lincoln Woods State Park, be sure to protect your skin with the all-natural sunscreen from the Raw Elements’ dispenser station.”

“We at South County Dermatology are excited to again be a sponsor of this ground-breaking program to provide free sunscreen to those visiting our beautiful Rhode Island beaches and parks,” stated Robert K. Dyer, MD, MPH of South County Dermatology. “All year long, we should protect our skin to protect us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays and to help prevent skin cancer. It is recommended to use a sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection, has an SPF 30 or greater rating, and is water resistant. Raw Elements meets all of these criteria and has the added bonus that it is environmentally safe.”

This initiative will be funded by the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Partnership to Reduce Cancer in Rhode Island, through a federal Comprehensive Cancer Control cooperative agreement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (NU58DP006291-03-00), as well as by investment from South County Dermatology and Raw Elements.