Hawaii officials to ban sales of certain types of sunscreen to protect coral reef

Sunscreen

Hawaii lawmakers are banning the sale of certain types of sunscreens in Hawaii. As per the reports, on Tuesday, the Hawaiian Lawmakers have passed a bill that puts a ban on the sale of sunscreens containing chemicals. The recent step has been taken on back of the study that claimed the presence of certain chemicals in the sunscreen is damaging coral reefs which are necessary to maintain the ecological balance of our environment.

Hence, the Hawaii lawmakers took notice of this harmful effect of sunscreen chemicals on the coral reefs and decided to ban it. Now, the bill needs to be signed by Gov. David Ige so as to make it a law. If this happens, then the new law will take effect from Jan. 1, 2021, and Hawaii will become the first state of the country to put a ban on selling of sunscreens containing harmful chemicals. On Tuesday, state Sen.

Mike Gabbard (D, Kapolei-Makakilo) introduced Senate Bill 2571, that puts a ban on the sale and distribution of over-the-counter sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate in Hawaii. Then the bill was up for voting by House and Senate. Some retail and health representatives opposed the bill. But the bill was passed unanimously by the Senate and only four members of the Senate house, Rep. Isaac Choy, Rep. Sharon Har, Rep. Sam Kong and Rep. Bob McDermott, voted against the bill.

Sen. Gabbard wrote in an email, “Amazingly, this is a first-in-the-world law. So, Hawaii is definitely on the cutting edge by banning these dangerous chemicals in sunscreens. When you think about it, our island paradise, surrounded by coral reefs, is the perfect place to set the gold standard for the world to follow. This will make a huge difference in protecting our coral reefs, marine life, and human health.”

The new bill got support from Friends of Hanauma Bay, Surfrider Foundation Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, the Office of the Hawaiian Affairs as well as many non-profit environmental groups. The representatives who opposed the bill were the Hawaii Food Industry Association, the Hawaii Medical Association, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and Personal Care Products Council and some others. They are claiming that the sunscreen ban could damage human health and could increase the risk of cancer in patients. Also, the reef friendly sunscreen costs two to three times more than the normal sunscreens.

Hawaii, which welcomes around 9 million sunscreen-slathered tourists a year, may become the first US state to ban the ingredient. The state legislature passed a bill to ban the over-the-counter sale of the more than 3,500 oxybenzone products on the market this week (along with products that contain octinoxate, another common sunscreen ingredient). The bill has been in the works for longer than a year and now awaits a signature from the state governor. Hawaii residents and visitors would only be able to buy sunscreen with the ingredients with a prescription from their doctor.

Sunscreen industry groups aren’t pleased. The bill would ban “at least 70% of the sunscreens on the market today, based on weak science blaming sunscreens for damage to coral reefs,” the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, which includes members like Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement obtained by the Washington Post. Bayer, which manufactures sunscreens by Coppertone, said that the bill was “at odds with skin cancer prevention efforts.”

There is a range of mineral-based, US Food and Drug Administration-approved sunscreens available on the market which contain either titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Plus, there are plenty of chemical sunscreens that don’t contain either oxybenzone or octinoxate.

The coral reef is essential for oceans, and from the last few years, they are in danger due to the hurricanes and disasters. Coral bleaching has been one of the prime causes for the vanishing barrier reefs of Australia; and not just in Australia but also in other parts of the world where such ecosystems are found. Recently Unesco said that World heritage coral reefs could become extinct if the carbon dioxide emission is not controlled, now the attention has been raised to prevent them.

The barrier reefs are formed by the continuous accumulation of small, marine organisms called corals, they form layers over layers for a long time and create a foundation that consists of calcium carbonate. To prevent coral reefs, researchers created a unique technique called genetic barcoding. According to a report, the method determines the population of young fish larvae in the coral system that is helping the scientists to know which larvae species are present in the water nearby reefs. The count would help the investigators to find out the considerable population of the adult fish and observe the reef ecosystem.

See Also: A unique technique to prevent the coral reefs

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