In a win for mother nature (and us too, if you consider the recent evidence finding that the chemicals in many commercial sunscreens carcinogenic, which is…ironic…), Hawaii has banned the sale of over-the-counter sunscreens that have chemicals in them that have been found to kill coral reef and other ocean life. When you’re going to visit a tropical paradise like Hawaii, the last thing you want to do is harm it, right? That’s the point of this law.
Oxybenzone and octinoxate, are two chemicals found to have “…significant harmful impacts on Hawaii’s marine environment and residing ecosystems.” according to the law. When you’ve got millions of tourists slathering themselves with these chemicals and then diving into your reefs, that has a big negative impact. Studies have found that Hawaii’s already fragile coral reefs are harmed by oxybenzone, also known as BP-3. It washes off the skin of sunbathers and swimmers onto coral, causing problems such as DNA damage and deformities in baby coral. In a 2015 report from the National Ocean Service, the federal agency said that oxybenzone “is highly toxic to juvenile corals and other marine life.”
“Studies have documented the negative impact of these chemicals on corals and other marine life. Our natural environment is fragile, and our own interaction with the earth can have lasting impacts. This new law is just one step toward protecting the health and resiliency of Hawaii’s coral reefs.” – Gov. David Ige of Hawaii, speaking about the bill on July 3rd, 2018
Echoing the Governor’s statements, State Rep. Chris Lee, said “In my lifetime, our planet has lost about half its coral reefs. We’ve got to take action to make sure we can protect the other half as best we can because we know that time is against us.” The law takes effect on January 1st, 2021.
So what can a person do, who’s ready to get on their plane to Hawaii and bake themselves in the sun?
Well, firstly, try not to do that. Its a pleasant experience, we know, but its super unhealthy and ages your skin! Otherwise, here are some other tips to try and replace that problematic chemical cocktail:
- First, there are plenty of perfectly good sunscreen products on the market that do not include the banned chemicals.
- Secondly, many resorts or destinations offer shaded lounging areas that are very comfortable. Why not use them?
- You could also wear big hats, cover up, don’t go in the sun, yada yada yada… yeah, we all know that’s not practical advice.
- Finally, did we mention there are plenty of perfectly good sunscreen products on the market that do not include the banned chemicals?
Unsurprisingly, the big corporate manufacturers of sunscreen products aren’t going to change their ways without a fight. They’ve made lots of completely tone-deaf ignorant statements that blame the state of Hawaii for putting human lives in danger, as if this was a villainous decision meant to murder millions.
Bayer said, “Eliminating the use of sunscreen ingredients considered to be safe and effective by the FDA with a long history of use not only restricts consumer choice, but is also at odds with skin cancer prevention efforts. What has been scientifically proven is that exposure to UV radiation from the sun causes skin cancer. And sunscreen is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from UV exposure, in addition to wearing protective clothing, sunglasses and staying in the shade.”
Johnson & Johnson, the corporate owner of Neutrogena said, “The health, safety and welfare of millions of Hawaii residents and tourists has been severely compromised, based on weak science blaming sunscreens for damage to coral reefs.”
I’m just going to leave that there and let you decide what to think about it.
Seriously though, I think that this is just going to be a non-issue. Stores in Hawaii will still offer a plethora of sunscreen products. They’re just going to be Oxybenzone and octinoxate free. Again, they are widely available already, its only a matter of what’s in them.