Science

Hawaii implements strict suncreen regulations to halt coral reef damage

Hawaii implements strict suncreen regulations to halt coral reef damage

Hawaii is ending the sale of sunscreen containing two chemicals believed to harm coral reefs.

"This bill is a small first step worldwide to really caring about our corals and our reefs in a way that no one else anywhere in the world has done", he said during the bill signing.

Scientists found that oxybenzone and octinoxate can cause young developing coral to die, as well as bleaching, DNA damage, and deformities to the reefs. The group Retail Merchants of Hawaii has said it's concerned the ban will discourage people from buying sunscreen at brick and mortar stores. "This will make a huge difference in protecting our coral reefs, marine life, and human health".

Environmentalists have taken the stance that without action now, the coral reefs of Hawaii will only suffer more unnecessary damage. These chemicals have also been shown to degrade corals' resiliency and ability to adjust to climate change factors and inhibit recruitment of new corals.

"The legislature further finds that environmental contamination of oxybenzone and octinoxate persists in Hawaii's coastal waters, as the contamination is constantly refreshed and renewed every day by swimmers and beachgoers", according to the bill. The prohibition takes effect in 2021. Consumers will instead have to buy reef-safe sunscreens lacking the chemicals. "We've got [a] limited amount of time".




Edgewell Personal Care, which makes Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen lotions, said it now makes products free of the two chemicals and "will continue to ensure we comply with all relevant regulations concerning oxybenzone and octinoxate".

"This irresponsible action will make it more hard for families to protect themselves against the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays", the Consumer Healthcare Products Association said in a statement. Only the sunscreens that use the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate are being banned which is harmful the state's biggest attractions - coral reefs.

This law does not include products marketed or intended for use as a cosmetic.

Up to 70 percent of sunscreens sold on the US market contain oxybenzone and up to 8 percent contain octinoxate, which often appears on the labels as octyl methoxycinnamate, National Public Radio reported.


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