Hawaii the first state to ban certain sunscreen

Katie Jones

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For a fun day at the beach people rely on sunscreen to protect them from the sun’s harmful rays, but this beach necessity plays a key role in destroying the coral reefs.

Some of the most popular types of sunscreen have one of two ingredients that are deadly to coral; oxybenzone and octinoxate. To help save the coral reefs state lawmakers of Hawaii have passed a bill Tuesday that will ban the selling of sunscreen with oxybenzone and octinoxate.

A study by Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, a nonprofit scientific organization, found these chemicals cause severe damage to the marine life. They found that after swimming beachgoers and discharges from wastewater treatment plants the chemicals left behind are absorbed by young coral plants. This contributes to coral bleaching, which is an increase in sea temperature which kills the algae inside the coral, leaving a once beautiful healthy ecosystem as a white waste land with no vital nutrients for creatures who live there.

An estimation of 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter the ocean every year, according to a 2015 entry in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. To try and cut down on that number Hawaii’s new law will prohibit the sale of sunscreen with oxybenzone and octinoxate, unless prescription from a licensed physician.

“The world was watching. We delivered. Preserve and protect our ocean environment!” said Sen. Will Espero on Twitter after the bill passed his chamber. The bill now goes to Hawaii Governor David Ige, and if he signs it the law would go into effect January 1, 2021. Hawaii Airlines started giving free samples of natural sunscreens that don’t include these harmful chemicals and have started to encourage passengers to learn more about Hawaii by giving a 11 minute documentary about the environment.

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