Hawaii Bans Coral-Killing Sunscreens

After the recent volcanic eruption, Hawaii is in the news yet again. Hawaii has just passed a bill banning sunscreens containing chemicals harmful to marine environments.

Though most people are aware of the threats posed to the world’s coral reefs, many are unaware that sunscreens used to protect our skin can harm the fragile marine organisms. Most brands of sunscreen contain oxybenzone and octinoxate which, according to the bill, “cause mortality in developing coral; increase coral bleaching that indicates extreme stress…and cause genetic damage to coral and other marine organisms”.

Corals Hawaii
Certain chemicals found in sunscreen can be harmful to marine life

These chemicals also harm fish, sea urchin, eels, Hawaiian monk seals and other wildlife when people wearing it go for a swim in the ocean. They are “constantly refreshed and renewed every day by swimmers and beachgoers,” according to the bill.

Does This Mean You Can’t Wear Sunscreen in Hawaii?

However, this doesn’t mean that people have to forego protecting their skin to save the coral reefs. It just necessitates a more careful choice of products. Many sunscreen brands don’t contain these harmful chemicals.

Aerial view Hawaii
The coral reefs of Hawaii need to be protected from chemical contamination

Various Hawaiian companies are also promoting eco-friendly sunscreen, such as Raw Elements USA, which offered samples to passengers flying to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines all through April.

Some hotels are also planning to distribute eco-friendly sunscreen to guests or install dispensers at convenient locations to help promote their use.

The new bill will go to the Governor of Hawaii, David Ige, to be signed. It will then be put into effect in 2021. Chemical contamination is one of the major hazards faced by beaches, especially as they are often a popular tourist attraction.


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