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Natural Awakenings National

Sunscreens Harm Hawaiian Reefs

Bottle of sunscreen in sand at beach next to seashells

lighfield studios/

Bill 132, banning sunscreens containing the chemicals avobenzone or octocrylene, has progressed through the Hawaiian House and Senate. If it passes, the bill will go into effect January 1, 2023, to prohibit the sale or distribution of any sunscreen containing the targeted chemicals unless the buyer has a valid prescription. The outlawed chemicals can make corals more susceptible to viral infections and bleaching. Octocrylene can disrupt human hormones and harm marine animals. Avobenzone is an endocrine disruptor and can make coral less resilient to high temperatures.

Maxx Phillips, Hawaii director and staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, says, “This is great news for our imperiled coral reefs and marine life. People can protect their skin without harmful petrochemicals while Hawaii protects public and environmental health.” For those needing to protect themselves from the sun without harming ocean life, scientists and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommend products containing non-nanoized titanium dioxide and non-nanoized zinc oxide.

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