Hawaii lawmakers are working on a ban on the use of some types of sunscreen statewide for the sake of sea life. Conservationists have pushed for the ban for years as some ingredients in the product are extremely damaging to corals.
Under the new law, Senate Bill 2571, sunscreen products that contain octinoxate and oxybenzone will require a prescription. New research suggests that the two chemicals can contribute to coral bleaching.
Coral bleaching is a wide-spread phenomenon that is killing corals and inhibit sea life worldwide at an alarming rate.
The proposed law is now heading to a special panel where members of the legislature will discuss the pros and cons of the ban. The supporters of the law claim that the reef-toxic sunscreen can be replace with coral-safe products.
Sunscreen Levels in Coastal Waters Very High
It is worth noting that over 50% of the coral reefs around the Hawaii Island are bleached. Also, at least 40% of the corals off the West Maui are affected by the phenomenon.
Coral bleaching is usually caused by rising sea temperatures in the area, but in Maui, it may also have something to do with 55 gallons of sunblock being dumped into the sea each day.
Conservationists claim that a sunscreen-free community would be better, but not all sunscreens are created equal. Some ingredients are more likely to kill off corals than others.
Researcher Craig Downs has recently tested the levels of coral-harming ingredients in the waters of Hanauma Bay. He found high levels of sunscreen in the region. Downs believes that the area is inching closer to “the point of no return.”
Without the reefs and thriving sea life, Hawaii could be dead as an economy. “The weather’s great in California, too. Hawaii has a lot to lose,” the researcher warned.
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