Hawaii becomes first state to ban certain sunscreens

Hawaii became the first state to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate that are believed to harm marine life and coral reefs. Photo by Warren Goldswain/Shutterstock

July 4 (UPI) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed legislation prohibiting the sale, offer of sale and distribution of sunscreens that contain the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate — the first state in the nation with the ban.

Ige signed the bill Tuesday but the law doesn’t take effect on the islands until Jan. 1, 2021.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are in most sunscreen products, are believed by scientists to be toxic to coral reefs.

“Studies have documented the negative impact of these chemicals on corals and other marine life,” the Democratic governor said. “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.”

During the signing ceremony, Ige said the state also needs to fight invasive species, pollution from land runoff and climate change to protect the reefs.

In May, the state House and Senate passed legislation that prohibits the sale and distribution of sunscreen with the active ingredients in the top-rated brands “without prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.”

This law does not include products marketed or intended for use as a cosmetic.

Safe options include organic compounds, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Henry Lim, immediate past president of the American Academy of Dermatology, told USA Today this ban could “create significant confusion.” Lim and other critics say people would be discouraged from wearing sunscreen altogether and skin cancer cases would increase.


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