Our whole lives we’ve been told to protect our skin from the sun by wearing sunscreen. But little did we know, it’s terrible for coral reefs (as if they didn’t have enough issues).
Thankfully, lawmakers in Hawaii are taking action on the matter and have recently passed a bill that bans sunscreen with the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate to be sold.
Research has found that these chemicals are toxic to coral and can lead to viral infections, even in the smallest of doses. What’s even more alarming is that the amounts in the ocean are very far from small. According to an estimate, approximately 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter the coral reefs every year.
The last stage for the bill to go through is for Hawaii governor David Ige to approve it. He has 45 days to sign it, and so far there has been no indication of what direction he will take. If it does go through, it will be the first of it’s kind and would take affect in 2021.
While a ban on sunscreen doesn’t really do much for the polluted oceans on the reefs, it could still make a difference. The reefs are more sensitive when they’re stressed, and these chemicals found in sunscreen can be a major stressor.
Manufacturers of sunscreen are not too please with the bill. As part of their opposing case, they argue that products that prevent skin cancer should not be removed. Other arguments included the fact that climate change is a more significant factor in reef decline.
You might be inclined to oppose to, but the ban is no way means you’ll have to give up on sunscreen completely. There are tons of brands that don’t use these chemicals, and still provide protection for the sun.