Hawaii bans sunscreens harmful to marine life

By Lim Jeong-yeo
  • Published : Jul 5, 2018 - 12:49
  • Updated : Jul 16, 2018 - 14:25

Sunscreens containing chemical substances harmful to coral reefs will be banned in the US state of Hawaii from 2021, US local media reported Wednesday.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed the legislation on Tuesday, making Hawaii the first state in the US to ban the sale, distribution and use of sunscreens that contain the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate.

The bill states, “Oxybenzone and octinoxate cause mortality in developing coral; increase coral bleaching that indicates extreme stress, even at temperatures below 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit; and cause genetic damage to coral and other marine organisms.”


Chemicals such as oxybenzone and octinoxate that block skin exposure to ultraviolet rays are severely harmful to coral, according to nonprofit organization Haereticus Environmental Laboratory.

Observations by the journal “Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology,” say that sunscreens are accountable for 1.4 ton of toxic substance that flow into coral reefs every year around the world.

Gov. Ige said regarding the bill, “This is just one small step toward protecting and restoring the resiliency of Hawaii’s reefs.” The bill recognizes exceptions for people who are prescribed the sunscreens for medical needs.

The sunscreens to be banned in Hawaii account for 70 percent of the sunscreens distributed in the US market, according to US media.

By Lim Jeong-yeo and Kim Soo-bin, Intern Reporter (