Hawaii Passes Bill Banning Sunscreen That Can Harm Coral Reefs

Healthy Living: Sunscreen ban in Hawaii to protect coral reefs

Hawaii Banning Sunscreen Harmful to Coral Reefs

"So, Hawaii is definitely on the cutting edge by banning these risky chemicals in sunscreens".

Doug Johnson, a dermatologist and spokesman for the Hawaii Dermatology Society, said, "A ban on these sunscreens in Hawaii - the state with the highest daily UV index warnings and very high rates of skin cancer and melanoma - would be a public health disaster".

This week Hawaii took action on the issue, passing a bill that will make it the first U.S. state to ban sunscreens that are harmful to coral reefs.

A study by the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, a nonprofit scientific organization, stated that the chemicals from the sunscreens have seeped into young coral and contribute to coral bleaching, CNN reported. If subsequently signed by state governor David Ige, the ban will come into place in January 2021. State Sen. Mike Gabbard, who introduced the bill, says it would also be "a first-in-the-world law".

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are endocrine disruptors that can trigger feminization in male fish, and have been linked to reproductive diseases in many marine species.

The scientists have also determined that oxybenzone impairs the DNA of corals and promotes coral bleaching, a condition in which corals expel the symbiotic seaweeds found within them, thus corals can, ultimately, die of starvation.

An estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen is believed to be deposited in oceans annually with the greatest damage found in popular reef areas in Hawaii and the Caribbean. "Lots of things kill coral reefs but we know oxybenzone prevents them from coming back".

Critics of the bill have argued that it's just a "feel-good measure", pointing out that other factors pose equally significant threats to coral, such as global warming and coastal development. There has also a been surge of growth in Hawaiian-made natural sunscreen products.

Many manufacturers already sell "reef-friendly" sunscreens, and companies can deplete current inventory ahead of the ban in 2021, Downs said.

According to the Environmental Working Group, the safest sunscreens in terms of chemicals are those that instead use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

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