Hawaii has become the first US State to pass a bill banning the sale of sunscreens containing chemicals known to be harmful to corals.
Chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate can have negative effects on reef life in as low as 62 parts per trillion, and are used in over 3,500 sunscreen products.
The ‘Impacts of Sunscreens on Coral Reefs‘ report produced by the International Coral Reef Initiative states the main impacts of such chemical filters appear to be:
- Bleaching of hard corals
- Damage and deformation of coral larvae
- Damage to coral DNA and reproductive success.
It’s known that significant amounts of sunscreen washes off bathers and ends up in the ocean. High levels have been found in the waters surrounding popular beaches such as Waimea Bay, Hanauma Bay and Waikiki Beach on Oahu and Honolua Bay on Maui.
Hawaii’s tourism industry is focused around it’s spectacular marine life and sees over 8 million visitors each year. When signed, the ban will come into force in 2021.
More information on the impact of sunscreens on coral reefs here.