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Courtney Cordoza
Staff Writer 

In a landmark decision, Hawaii has become the first state to ban brands of sunscreen that contain the harmful chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate.

The ruling is an effort to protect coral reefs, which are highly susceptible to damage from the chemicals. Governor David Ige signed the bill this week. All of the outlawed sunscreens will completely be off shelves by January 1, 2021.

This piece of legislation has been met with praise by environmentally-conscious shoppers. Society is beginning to make strides to reduce our carbon footprint on the planet and this is a step in the right direction.

The word ban can come off as harsh but in this case, it is favored. Coral reefs are vital to the marine and human ecosystems.  They protect sea life, are used in medicine and provide jobs. As you can see, the reefs provide so many benefits to life on land and sea. Without them, species of sea life would cease to exist. People who work with the coral reefs would lose their jobs. Coral reefs give us so much that it is only right for us to do our part and conserve them.

Although many are in favor of this new legislation, Big Sunscreen is in opposition to it. The Hawaii Medical Association, Chamber of Commerce Hawaii and the Personal Care Products Council are also against this new bill. They believe that this bill will limit the consumers’ choices in purchasing their preferred sun protection. They also argued that this will reverse the efforts made by the Food and Drug Administration to lower the risk of contracting skin cancer.

Sunscreen companies argue that banning oxybenzone and octinoxate is a risky and foolish decision. The Consumer Healthcare Products Association claims that these chemicals are most important when it comes to skin care prevention. Without it, the sunscreen would be ineffective. Coppertone, Banana Boat and Neutrogena are a few big brands that contain these chemicals and are hurt from the ban.

Are these companies just making these claims because their products will be off the shelves within the next three years? All these companies seem to care about is turning a profit, since other more natural brands are capable of using ingredients that are nontoxic to the coral reefs.

Sunscreen is used to protect the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Prolonged exposure to the rays can cause melanoma, skin cancer that if left untreated can be deadly. It is important that people of all ages and skin colors wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher. Skin is the largest and most delicate organ on the human body. It is the body’s barrier and should be treated with care. We are more than capable of keeping our skin protected while ensuring the well-being of coral reefs.

These companies are being selfish by putting their own profit before the planet. Sustainability has become a hot topic in recent times. With climate change and plastic waste being a huge issue, we do not need to add any more fuel to the fire. Hawaii banning the dangerous sunscreens is a huge step. Hopefully, this declaration will encourage other states and countries to follow suit.

The chemicals directly impact the symbiotic relationship between algae and the coral reefs. To protect itself, the coral larva places itself in its own skeleton. As a result, they sink to the bottom of the ocean and die. Once the current coral reefs die out, there will be no upcoming generation to replace it. The chemicals in the sunscreen lower their durability to protect themselves from climate change. Before this bill was passed, other ecologists weighed in on the side effects of toxic chemicals in the sunscreen. The test results showed how damaging they were to our waters.

Humans seem to have a pattern of how they react to environmental problems. They do not work to conserve what we already have, opting instead to take charge when major damage has been good. Hawaii is a model example of how states should be treating environmental issues, and it’s time for other states to do the same. It is a great start and only leaves me with hope for the future.



Categories: Opinions, Uncategorized

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