Sunscreen has always been an excellent way to protect your skin from the sun, but it is also doing damage to the oceans we swim in. Certain chemical ingredients found in some popular sunscreen has been found to contribute to the deterioration of the coral reefs, according to extensive research studies.
The island state of Hawai has become the first state to pass a law to further protect our ecosystem. The bill, known as SB2571, passed the state legislature on Tuesday and bans the sale of sunscreens with either oxybenzone or octinoxate, which are the chemicals known to harm coral reefs. Hawaii is the first state in the United States to pass any sort of reef conservation legislation of this nature.
However, once the law is signed by Hawaii Governor David Ige, it will not go into effect until January 1, 2021. So sunscreens with these ingredients will still be available on store shelves for awhile. The state of Hawaii has also tried another tactic to eradicate these harmful chemicals. Recently, sunscreens with all natural ingredients have been promoted more, even given out as samples by Hawaiian Airlines.
A 2015 study found that over 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotions end up in coral reefs around the world, due to the chemicals rubbing off the skin underwater and attaching to the coral reefs. This study predominately studied the regression of coral in Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Israel.
The bill has been met with some opposition from Bayer, the maker of Coppertone sunscreen. There is significant evidence that not wearing sunscreen causes various types of cancer due to sun exposure. However, the evidence that sunscreen chemicals cause coral bleaching is a lot newer and under-researched.
The citizens of Hawaii seem to have already embraced the change. Many store owners have already pulled sunscreens from shelves and offered more all-natural options. Even hotels and nonprofits on the island are implementing their own ban and offering different options to tourists.