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They protect our skin, but endanger coral reefs

Hawaii wants to ban sunscreen for tourists

No more sunscreen on white Hawaiian beaches. The proposal was put forward by Senator Will Espero, a native of the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean, who brought a bill before the United States Congress to prohibit tourists from using products containing oxybenzone and octinoxate (octyl methoxycinnamate) in the sea. These two filters are used to protect the skin from UV rays, but could severely alter the delicate balance of the sea and of tropical coral reefs.

This theory is based on the results of scientific research conducted by Craig Downs of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Clifford (Virginia, USA), which was published in 2016. The tests conducted showed that the concentration of these two substances (oxybenzone and octinoxate) in the clear waters of the archipelago is 10 times higher than the maximum tolerated level, which would result in progressive coral bleaching and inhibit the growth of smaller corals.

According to the researchers, contamination may occur when people go into the sea after putting on their sunscreen.

Hence the proposal to ban sunscreen lotions, which triggered responses from pharmaceutical companies and cosmetics companies. Namely, L’Oréal stressed the importance of sunscreen to prevent skin diseases caused by sun exposure, such as melanoma, and required further in-depth studies and more accurate testing. Nevertheless, the French multinational corporation, as well as many other big groups, has committed to finding a good substitute for oxybenzone that can protect the skin but without harming the marine environment and its inhabitants.