Hawaii set to pass bill banning sunscreens harmful to coral reefs

By Becky Bargh | Published: 4-May-2018

Coral reefs host 25% of all marine life on the planet, but have been under threat of demise in recent years due to human impact

Hawaii has announced it will become the first US state to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are a threat to the islands' marine environment.

The ingredients - which are used in over 3,500 sunscreens across the state - prompt the water to heat, causing the coral to bleach and uninhabitable as an ecosystem.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate have also been shown to degrade corals’ resilience and ability to adjust to climate change.

The bill was first introduced by Democratic Senator Mike Gabbard and is currently awaiting the signature of Hawaii’s state Governor David Ige.

Gabbard told The Honolulu Star Advertiser that: “Amazingly, this is a first-in-the-world law.

“Hawaii is definitely on the cutting edge by banning these dangerous chemicals in sunscreens."

He continued: “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.”

Hawaii’s coral reefs stretch more than 1,200 miles and account for 85% of all coral reefs in the US.

Despite its opposition, the bill has been welcomed by Friends of Hanauma Bay, Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, Surfrider Foundation and a number of charitable environmental groups.

If the bill is passed it would be implemented into the state in 2021.

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