Chemical-Based Sunscreens to be Banned in Hawaii

Hawaii has concluded plans to ban the use of certain sunscreens. This is in an effort to protect the coral reef. However, the said ban will not be in effect until 2018. Overtime, it has been discovered that the coral reef is being affected by certain chemical present in some sunscreens. Name of the culprit chemical is oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is present in a host of chemical-based sunscreens and it negatively impacts the coral reef.

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In a bid to find a way out, the authorities insist that those using sunscreen should forfeit all chemical-based sunscreens and opt for mineral-based sunscreen instead. Oxybenzone is known to cause DNA damage and endocrine disruption in the coral reef and this ultimately leads to its death. The coral reef is equally bleached as a result of the oxybenzone present in chemical-based sunscreen. This problem is more noticeable in young corals.

Coral outcrop on Flynn Reef

Corals are made beautiful by their natural colours. This same natural color makes them attractive to tourists. Additionally, their natural colours keep them alive. How is this so? Corals are made up of polyps, which are soft-bodied animals. These animals are rich in algae, which has to undergo photosynthesis to give life to the coral. The oxybenzone present in the coral forces the algae out of the polyp; leading to the latter’s loss of colour and life.

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The oxybenzone in these sunscreens are so powerful that even very little quantity present on the body of those swimming close to the coral reef can affect the plant. More than 80% of the coral reef in the Caribbean have been lost. This has negatively affected the picturesque appearance of the blue sea. Aside the coral, also lives of fishes, invertebrates and algae, numbering over a million and inhabiting the coral reef areas, have also been lost.

It is true that the ban as desired by Will Espero, the Hawaiian senator, may not see the light of day until 2018. However, it is desired that swimmers around the corals should wear mineral-based sunscreen to help preserve lives of the corals.

(Via)