Hawaii bans sale of sunscreens with coral-harming chemicals

Hawaii bans sale of sunscreens with coral-harming chemicals

Hawaii is now the first state in the nation to ban the sale of sunscreens with chemicals that could be harmful to the environment.

Sunscreens containing minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide reflect the sun's rays away from skin and are a good alternative to chemicals that could be harmful to ocean reefs.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are in most sunscreen products, are believed by scientists to be toxic to coral reefs.

Gov. Ige said regarding the bill, "This is just one small step toward protecting and restoring the resiliency of Hawaii's reefs". "Oxybenzone and octinoxate, found in the majority of sunscreens, are safe and effective over-the-counter (OTC) active ingredients recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as important aides in decreasing the risk of developing skin cancer, the most common cancer in the U.S". The ban will not be applied to medically prescribed sunscreens or makeup that contain oxybenzone or octinoxate.

Various sunscreens from the prominent brands including Banana Boat, Australian Gold and Coppertone consist of either oxybenzone or octinoxate, as indicated by a research conducted by the cosmetics ingredients database of the Environmental Working Group.

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"Unfortunately, people also pose the greatest threat to coral reefs", according to the Smithsonian.

"So, Hawaii is definitely on the cutting edge by banning these risky chemicals in sunscreens", Gabbard said in an email to the newspaper.

Critics say there aren't enough independent studies supporting the assertion that the chemicals harm coral reefs. We know the tide is against us.

"When you think about it, our island paradise, surrounded by coral reefs, is the ideal place to set the gold standard for the world to follow", he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

But state Rep. Chris Lee, who represents the Honolulu suburbs of Kailua and Waimanalo, said the law is a necessary step to help Hawaii pass on its reefs, ocean, tourism industry and way of life to the next generation.

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