Hawaii permits sunscreen ban to protect coral reefs. It became the first state in the nation to ban certain sunscreens that contain ingredients believed to be harmful to key marine habitats.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a bill on July 3, banning the sunscreens containing two chemicals, oxybenzone, and octinoxate, which scientists believe damage coral reefs. The new Senate Bill 2571 restricts the sale and distribution of certain sunscreens on the islands.
It should be noted that medically prescribed sunscreens or makeup that contain oxybenzone or octinoxate are free from the ban that takes effects on Jan. 1, 2021.
“Studies have documented the negative impact of these chemicals on corals and other marine life. Our natural environment is fragile, and our own interaction with the earth can have lasting impacts. This new law is just one step toward protecting the health and resiliency of Hawaii’s coral reefs,” Ige said during the bill signing.
Environmental sectors have expressed warm approval to the law but business groups, trade associations, and the healthcare sectors are showing criticism and urging that the law, restricting people from applying sunscreen at Hawaii will indirectly increase the risk of sunburn or long-term issues including skin cancer. The prohibition has earned condemnation from the Hawaii Medical Association.
However, environmental advocates support the decision referring a 2015 study that found oxybenzone, which filters UV rays, was found in coral reefs in Hawaii and the Caribbean. The chemical believed to cause DNA damage in the organisms and kill coral reefs.
“In my lifetime, our planet has lost about half its coral reefs,” explained Hawaii State Rep. Chris Lee, D-Honolulu. “We’ve got to take action to make sure we can protect the other half as best we can because we know that time is against us.”