Hawaii legislature passes ban on sunscreen to protect coral reefs

Hawaii legislature passes ban on sunscreen to protect coral reefs

Hawaii legislature passes ban on sunscreen to protect coral reefs

Hawaii banning sunscreen harmful to coral reefs.

A bill has been passed by state lawmakers in Hawaii to protect coastal waters from the pollution caused by toxic sunscreens. "The legislature finds that two chemicals contained in many sunscreens, oxybenzone and octinoxate, have significant harmful impacts on Hawaii's marine environment and residing ecosystems", it says.

Scientists have argued that the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate commonly used in more than 3,500 of the world's most popular sunscreen products increases the coral's susceptibility to bleaching and stops regeneration of reefs that make them less resilient to climate change.

It would become the first U.S. state to enact a ban on the chemicals if Democratic Governor David Ige signs the bill; he has not indicated whether he will. It also affects sea urchins and kills algae, a source of food for sea turtles, he said.

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. It's estimated about 14,000 tons of sunscreen enters the world's reefs every year.

In a 2015 Environmental Pollution and Toxicology research, conducted by an global science team, came to the conclusion that oxybenzone distorts coral larvae so that they become stuck in their shells, hindering their capacity to disseminate throughout the ocean. She said there are still not enough independent studies on the issue to know whether the chemicals cause harm to coral.

Critics of the proposed legislation, which was passed by the Senate unanimously, say that it will discourage people from wearing any sunscreen at all.

The American Chemistry Council also opposed the bill, noting concerns over the risks of sun damage to skin.

Many sunscreen manufacturers already sell "reef-friendly" products.

In an effort to protect Hawaii's reefs, Hawaiian Airlines last month began offering passengers free samples of natural sunscreens without those ingredients.

Safe options include organic compounds, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

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