Hawaii Just Passed a Bill Banning Certain Reef-Killing Sunscreens


Hawaii is poised to become the first U.S. state to ban certain sunscreen products in a bid to protect its coral reefs.

The ban, once signed by Gov. David Ige, will make Hawaii the first state in the country to pass such kind of law and would go into effect on January 1, 2021.

A bill was recently passed by the Hawaii state legislature to ban chemical sunscreen. It also found both chemicals can induce feminisation in adult male fish and increase reproductive diseases in creatures from sea urchins to parrotfish and mammal species similar to the Hawaiian monk seal. The study also concluded that the the compound damages coral DNA, which leads to bleaching, a phenomenon where corals purge beneficial algae from inside of them, causing them to starve to death. "In laboratory studies it is a weak estrogen and has potent anti-androgenic effects".

CNN reported that some 14,000 tons of sunscreen find its way to the world's reefs each year, according to a 2015 paper published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. Even without state action, though, many of Hawaii's resorts and parks, including Hanauma Bay, which gets an estimated 2,600 sunscreen-slathered snorkelers a day, are urging visitors to use reef-safe sunscreen before jumping in.

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Coral reefs are having a awful time. She said there are still not enough independent studies on the issue to know whether the chemicals cause harm to coral.

Despite opposition from health and retail industry representatives, the Senate voted unanimously in favor of the bill, while four members of the House - Representative Isaac Choy, Representative Sharon Har, Representative Sam Kong and Representative Bob McDermot - voted against it. The American Chemistry Council opposed the bill on the basis that sun exposure to humans is also a danger. 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.

Many sunscreen manufacturers already sell "reef-friendly" products.

In an effort to protect Hawaii's reefs, Hawaiian Airlines last month began offering passengers free samples of natural sunscreens without those ingredients.