Legislators in Hawaii passed a bill on Tuesday that would ban the sale and distribution of sunscreens on the state that use two chemicals that were deemed to be harmful to coral reefs. Questions about sunscreen's true effectiveness and the environmental consequences of lathering our bodies in chemicals and then jumping in the ocean, lake, or river have forced us to pause and rethink our sun protection strategy. When signed by governor David Ige, bill SB2571 will be the first such law anywhere in the world, taking effect on January 1, 2021. However, doctor's prescription sunscreens containing the hazardous chemicals would still be allowed to purchase. The association said "the health, safety and welfare of millions of Hawaii residents and tourists has been severely compromised" by SB 2571, which aims to ban "at least 70 percent of the sunscreens on the market today, based on weak science blaming sunscreens for damage to coral reefs". Although other factors contribute to reef degradation, "hopefully, other jurisdictions will look at this legislation and follow suit".
In addition to protecting sea creatures, the Smithsonian said, the reefs provide food, medication and tourism jobs, among other things - at a value of $30 billion to $172 billion per year.
"The chemical not only kills the coral, it causes DNA damage in adults and deforms the DNA in coral in the larval stage, making it unlikely they can develop properly", explains the study of the chemical's effect on reefs in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"What we're really concerned with is that there aren't very many independent studies out there that have gone for peer review", said Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii. Lim and other critics say people would be discouraged from wearing sunscreen altogether and skin cancer cases would increase. The American Chemistry Council opposed the bill on the basis that sun exposure to humans is also a danger.
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Hawaii banning sunscreen harmful to coral reefs.
Recently, Hawaiian Airlines began offering passengers free samples of sunscreens on trips to the islands made from natural ingredients and free of chemicals. Unfortunately, a TON of common sunscreens contain oxybenzone and octinoxate.
"We have so many problems with coral bleaching, and there is already so much contamination", said Dr Yuanan Lu, a professor and director of the environmental health laboratory at the University of Hawaii, who applauded the passage.
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