Hawaii is banning chemicals popular in sunscreen to protect coral reefs surrounding its islands, the first state in the U.S. to enact such laws, The Washington Post reports.
A bill banning oxybenzone and octinoxate passed the state legislature in May. Democratic Hawaii Gov. David Ige is expected to sign the bill into law Tuesday. If so, the ban will take effect Jan. 1, 2021.
“Amazingly, this is a first-in-the-world law,” Democratic state Sen. Mike Gabbard, who introduced the bill, told the Honolulu Star Adviser in an e-mail. “So, Hawaii is definitely on the cutting edge by banning these dangerous chemicals in sunscreens. When you think about it, our island paradise, surrounded by coral reefs, is the perfect place to set the gold standard for the world to follow.”
“This will make a huge difference in protecting our coral reefs, marine life, and human health,” Gabbard added.
The two chemicals kill developing coral and cause genetic damage to fish and other marine creatures who rely on the coral reefs for habitat. The chemicals also make the coral reefs more susceptible to damage from climate change, according to the bill.
A coalition of environmental groups backed the ban, while a number of business groups and medical professionals spoke against the bill for the negative health affects it may lead to for millions of residents and tourists. (RELATED: School Sunscreen Ban Causes 10-Year-Old Girl To Get FRIED On Field Trip)
“The health, safety and welfare of millions of Hawaii residents and tourists has been severely compromised by the passage of SB 2571 that will ban at least 70 percent of the sunscreens on the market today, based on weak science blaming sunscreens for damage to coral reefs,” Consumer Healthcare Products Association said in a May statement after the bill passed the legislature. “This irresponsible action will make it more difficult for families to protect themselves against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, and it is contrary to the many concerns expressed by Hawaii’s medical doctors, dermatologists, and public health experts.”
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