Published: Sat, July 07, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Hawaii to become first state to ban sunscreens to protect marine ecosystems

Hawaii to become first state to ban sunscreens to protect marine ecosystems

Bans the sale, offer of sale, or distribution of any sunscreen that contains oxybenzone or octinoxate, or both, without a prescription issued by a licensed healthcare provider.

The goal of this law is to preserve marine ecosystems, including coral reefs.

While environmentalists and most residents of Hawaii applaud approval of the legislation, some merchants have anxious the move may hurt at the cash register as about 70% of all common sunscreens now on the market would fall under this ban.

State Rep. Mike Gabbard (D) touted the law as a "first-in-the-world" measure when it passed the state legislature in May.

According to some estimates, a third of the world's coral reef has died in the past three years, others say half has gone in the past 30 years. "This will make a huge difference in protecting our coral reefs, marine life, and human health".

Oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are in most sunscreen products, are believed by scientists to be toxic to coral reefs.

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Environmentalists have taken the stance that without action now, the coral reefs of Hawaii will only suffer more unnecessary damage.

The Star-Advertiser reported that the proposed law, which would go into effect in 2021, was opposed by ABC Stores, the Hawaii Medical Association, the Hawaii Food Industry Association, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, the Personal Care Products Council and Bayer, which manufactures sunscreens by Coppertone.

"Studies have documented the negative impact of these chemicals on corals and other marine life", the Democratic governor said. "We've got [a] limited amount of time".

Watch Gov. David Ige's full speech during the bill signing on Tuesday here.

"This irresponsible action will make it more hard for families to protect themselves against the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays", the Consumer Healthcare Products Association said in a statement. "Banning oxybenzone and octinoxate - key ingredients in effective sunscreens on the market - will drastically and unnecessarily reduce the selection of safe and effective sunscreen products available to residents and visitors".

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