Updated February 12, 2019
Less than a year after Hawaii voted to ban all chemical sunscreens known to harm the coral reef, Key West has officially decided upon a similar vote. The Key West City Commission has decided that the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate—two ingredients linked to coral bleaching—will officially be banned within city limits, the Miami Herald reports.
The new ban, which is set to go into effect in January, 2021, is intended to protect North America’s only living coral reef, which is located about six miles off the keys. “We have one reef, and we have to do one small thing to protect that,” said Mayor Teri Johnston. “It’s our obligation.”
While this ban only affects Key West and does not apply to anywhere else in the state of Florida, we can’t help but wonder if other areas in the state will push for the same ban. Only time will tell.
Updated May 6, 2018
It’s official: Hawaii has banned all chemical sunscreens deemed dangerous to the coral reef. On May 1, Hawaii became the first state to pass a bill prohibiting the distribution of sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate due to their harmful effects on both the coral reef and other marine life, the New York Times reports. With an estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen deposited into the ocean every year, scientists believe this ban is vital to saving the already-damaged coral reef.
The new bill will officially go into effect January 1, 2021 and has already caused major waves within the sunscreen industry, mainly because these banned chemicals are currently used in over 3,500 sunscreen products. With Hawaii’s steps to reduce the degradation of the coral reefs officially in motion, it’s only a matter of time until other states follow suit. We’ll be sure to update if more information arises.
Originally Published April 24, 2018
It’s not uncommon for some long-standing beauty products to eventually become banned—after all, sometimes ingredients are found to be harmful to humans long after the product has been put on shelves. However, Hawaii is now proposing to ban a product for a totally different reason that’s unrelated to its effect on humans. More specifically, Hawaii wants to remove certain sunscreens from stores due to their detrimental consequences on the coral reef.
Newly proposed Senate Bill 2571 is aiming to prohibit the sale and distribution of any sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, which scientists say damage reefs and are toxic to marine life.
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As proof, Craig Brown, executive director of Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, conducted a study of Hanauma Bay in Oahu to determine the levels of harmful oxybenzone in the water. The research revealed that the lowest levels of oxybenzone were 30-parts-per-trillion and the highest levels were 29,000-parts-per-trillion. However, Downs claims the toxic limit of the ingredient is 10-parts-per-trillion, proving that these high levels of toxins could completely kill the reef.
“If it continues, all of the near shore stone structures or reef structures will begin to disappear within the next 10 to 15 years,” Downs told Honolulu local newstation, KHON2. “That will cause massive erosion of the beach when you get a swell. The pollution will cause Hanauma Bay to lose its value as a major tourism attraction.”
However, not everyone is supporting the ban. Tina Yamaki, president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii, doesn’t believe there are enough sunscreens on the market to allow this ban: “We are conscious about the environment and the aina [land], but we also have to have a balance on that too,” Yamaki said. “People have to be able to use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer and that’s what we are looking at…now they’re going to be very limited in what they can use.”
State lawmakers must make a decision by April 27 and, if passed, the ban would go into effect in July 2019.