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In Move to Protect Endangered Coral Reef, Hawaii Bans Certain Sunscreens

Filed Under: Announcements & News,Beauty,Personal Care at 12:38 pm | By: Joe Palinsky

  • Hawaii becomes first state to ban sunscreens containing harmful chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate
  • Legislators hope this move will protect endangered coral reef

Remembering to slather on some sunscreen is vital when you are going to be exposing your skin to sunlight for long durations. While the importance of sunscreen has been well-researched by scientists for years, leaders in Hawaii are hoping recently-passed legislation will make the products safer for the environment.

Though sunscreen helps to protect the skin from melanoma, skin damage and an array of other conditions, many brands contain dangerous toxins that can have a seriously negative impact on the environment. In Hawaii, where tourists and locals alike use copious amounts of sunscreen, the chemicals have found their way into the water.

In recent years, researchers have discovered oxybenzone and octinoxate, two active ingredients in most sunscreen brands, in the water surrounding the chain of islands. Worst of all, oxybenzone and octinoxate have been linked to causing serious, lasting damage to coral reefs (1)According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, coral reefs around the world are dying from a number of human-related causes. Without an active coral reef, the ecosystems surrounding Hawaii will fall apart and lead to serious issues with local flora and fauna, and even run the risk of damaging Hawaii’s tourist scene.

By banning sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, Hawaii legislators hope to undo some of the damage and become the first state to make lasting change on this front. “Everyone has come together to support this legislation, from local nurses and doctors, to resorts and airlines, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of new sunscreen companies to supply reef-safer products,” Craig Downs, the executive director of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, told The New York Times.

With summer around the corner, many consumers will be purchasing sunscreen in the coming months. To remain a smart shopper and do your part to protect the oceans, you want to opt for brands that do not contain harmful agents like oxybenzone or octinoxate. Use a discerning eye to find brands that contain chemical alternatives like titanium oxide or zinc oxide. It can also be helpful to educate yourself on ways to protect your skin with natural sunscreen.

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