Hawaii lawmakers pass bill banning sunscreens with chemicals harmful to coral reefs

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To save the coral reefs and marine life, the United States will ban the sale of sunscreen chemicals in Hawaii.

It's estimated about 14,000 tons of sunscreen enters the world's reefs every year.

Studies have also shown that the ocean pollution comes from both people wearing sunscreen as well as through wastewater streams that are sent to the sea.

State lawmakers passed a measure this week that would ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate by 2021 in an effort to protect coral reefs.

If it is signed by Democratic Gov. David Ige it would into effect on January 1, 2021, on the islands.

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The legislation, which was approved Tuesday by the House and Senate, would prohibit the sale and distribution of sunscreen with the active ingredients in the top-rated brands on the island "without prescription from a licensed healthcare provider".

According to the scientist, the chemicals Oxybenzone and octinoxate breaks the coral by leaching it of nutrients and disrupt the development of fish and marine life, like sea urchins and algae. Laura Thielen told KHON2. "So, really it's damaging our corals no matter whether you're wearing it on land or at the beach", Sen. "The bill delays the effective date of the ban until January 1, 2021 to allow for the reformulation of sunscreen to prevent further increase of skin cancer in Hawai'i".

It would become the first state to enact a ban on the chemicals if Democratic Gov. David Ige signs the bill; he has not indicated whether he will.

According to the Environmental Working Group, the safest sunscreens in terms of chemicals are those that instead use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.