January 20, 2019

Hawaii bans sunscreens harmful to marine life

07 July 2018, 04:53 | Dale Webster

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That's going to change in Hawaii, where major sunscreen brands may soon have to revamp their products or stop selling them there. "Governor, by signing this measure, you are presenting our community with a unique moment in time to protect our coral reefs".

According to the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, coral reefs are crucial to marine and human life.

"Oxybenzone and octinoxate cause mortality in developing coral; increase coral bleaching that indicates extreme stress, even at temperatures below 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit; and cause genetic damage to coral and other marine organisms", the recently passed legislation reads.

Roughly one-quarter of coral reefs worldwide are already considered damaged beyond fix, while another two-thirds live under serious threat, according to WWF Global.

Observations by the journal "Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology", say that sunscreens are accountable for 1.4 ton of toxic substance that flow into coral reefs every year around the world.

If the ban is passed, it would take effect in 2021.

Sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate will only be available to those with a prescription from a physician.

Raw Elements products are free of these environment-damaging chemicals and only contain organic, non-GMO ingredients like rosemary oil, sunflower seed oil and mango butter, and claim to be the "safest, most effective sunscreen on the planet".

Johnson & Johnson, which owns Neutrogena, agreed with the position taken by its trade organization, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.

Senator Mike Gabbard, who first introduced the bill, labeled SB 271, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that "Hawaii is definitely on the cutting edge by banning these unsafe chemicals in sunscreens".

Up to 70 percent of sunscreens sold on the USA market contain oxybenzone and up to 8 percent contain octinoxate, which often appears on the labels as octyl methoxycinnamate, National Public Radio reported.

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