Hawaii lawmakers approve ban on sunscreens with chemicals harmful to coral reefs

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Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that prohibits the sale of sunscreens believed to be harmful to ocean ecosystems, including coral reefs.

The bill, if signed into law by Gov. David Ige (D), will make Hawaii the first U.S. state to enact such a ban, which would take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

“These chemicals have also been shown to degrade corals’ resiliency and ability to adjust to climate change factors and inhibit recruitment of new corals,” the text of the bill explains. 

The measure, introduced by state Sen. Mike Gabbard (D), bans the sale and distribution of any sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate; however, prescription sunscreens containing those chemicals will not be affected by the ban.

“Amazingly, this is a first-in-the-world law,” Gabbard told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “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,” Gabbard, whose daughter is U.S. Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardFormer Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii dies at 93Congress, leave no H-1Bs behindTop general: Countering Iran in Syria not a US military missionMORE (D), added. “This will make a huge difference in protecting our coral reefs, marine life, and human health.”

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