Hawaii Becomes First State to Pass Bill Banning Sunscreen That Harms Coral Reefs

Hawaii has become the first state in the United States to pass a bill banning the sale of sunscreen containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which have been shown to make coral reefs susceptible to viral infections, bleach, and dye. The chemicals are not biodegradable either, which means that they remain in the water after the coral has died. Sunscreen lobbying groups opposed the ban, citing the need for humans to protect themselves from ultraviolet radiation under direct sunlight to avoid cancer, the New York Times reports. But environmental groups eked out a win with the legislation, citing the worrisome death of Hawaiian reefs over the past two decades. Instead of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, “reef-safe” sunscreens will be permitted to be sold, which use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect skin. The Hawaiian legislation passed May 1; if the state's governor signs it, it will go into effect in January 2021.