Bills to Ban Coral-Killing Sunscreens Advance

January 31, 2017, 1:05 PM HST · Updated February 1, 7:56 AM
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Rapid Response Assessment Team in Kaneʻohe Bay: File photo courtesy: DLNR.

The House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection today passed House Bill 600, introduced by Representative Nicole Lowen (District 6, Kailua-Kona, Holualoa), which would prohibit the sale of sunscreens containing the chemical oxybenzone.

The bill was introduced in response to recent studies that have concluded that oxybenzone disrupts coral development and growth.

“Our reefs are an essential economic driver of our tourism industry, they sustain our fish populations for fishermen, and are home to many species found nowhere else in the world. Safe, effective, and affordable alternatives to oxybenzone are available already. How can we, in good conscience, continue to needlessly allow the use of this chemical that we know causes damage to coral?” said Rep. Lowen.

Nāpili Bay, Maui. (1.12.17)

The committee also moved a bill forward that would allow continued sale of oxybenzone products, but impose new labeling requirements. HB 600 will next go to the House Floor and then to the Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection.

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Meantime, State Representative Angus McKelvey of Maui reinforced his commitment to protecting Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs by endorsing the Nāpili Bay and Beach Foundation’s upcoming study on strategies to manage oxybenzone pollution.

“As one who burns early and often, and is a skin cancer survivor, I know how important it is to protect yourself from the sun,” McKelvey said, “but there are many products that, along with sensible sun habits, can protect your skin and our reefs.”

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