Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a historic bill this week that bans the sale of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals that have been deemed harmful to coral reefs.
Hawaii is the first U.S. state to pass a legislation banning the sale of sunscreen containing these chemicals. The bill will go into effect on January 1, 2021.
“We are blessed in Hawaii to be home of some of the most beautiful natural resources on the planet,” Ige said at the bill signing, according to The Huffington Post. “But our natural environment is fragile and our own interaction with the Earth can have everlasting impacts, and this bill is a small first step worldwide to really caring about our corals and our reefs in a way that no one else anywhere in the world has done.”
Hawai’i officially becomes 1st state to ban harmful chemicals oxybenzone, octinoxate in sunscreens to save coral reefs as @govhawaii signs this bill into law #savetheplanet #savethereef #bantoxicsunscreens
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A 2015 study conducted by scientists at the University of Central Florida found that oxybenzone, a common UV-filtering compound, kills the coral, causes DNA damage in the coral’s adult stage, and deforms the DNA in the larval stage, hindering its development.
“Coral reefs are the world’s most productive marine ecosystems and support commercial and recreational fisheries and tourism,” UCF Professor John Fauth says. “In addition, reefs protect coastlines from storm surge. Worldwide, the total value of coral reefs is tremendous. And they are in danger.”
A separate 2015 study, published in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology and conducted by biologist Craig Downs, also found that the chemicals produced water pollution and had damning effects on the coral reefs.
In 2012, Women’s Health reported that oxybenzone and octinoxate may actually be harmful to humans as well, not just coral reefs. According to the publication, when the skin absorbs oxybenzone, it can cause an eczema-like allergic reaction and disrupt hormone levels. Octinoxate may damage skin cells and lead to premature aging.
How To Find a Better Sunscreen
However, it may be a challenge to find sunscreen products in the U.S. that do not contain the harmful chemicals. NPR reports that 70 percent of sunscreens on the U.S. market contain oxybenzone, according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, and up to 8 percent contain octinoxate.
The Skin Cancer Foundation sent out a press release on May 3 that encourages the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve new sunscreen ingredients that are considered safer:
In the meantime, Health.com rounded up a few products that are oxybenzone-free, including Aveeno Baby sunscreen, Bare Republic Mineral Baby Sunscreen Stick, and All Good Natural Sport Sunscreen Lotion. Prevention also listed their best reef-safe sunscreens here.
From: Popular Mechanics
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