First Non-Chemical Sunscreen Dispenser in a Hawai‘i State Park Installed at Hāpuna
The first non-chemical sunscreen dispenser in a Hawai‘i State Park was unveiled Friday morning at the Waialea section of Hāpuna State Recreation Area on the west coast of Hawai‘i Island.
It’s a nod to the growing movement and legislation to get ocean users and beach goers to only apply mineral-based sun protection – to protect sensitive coral reef systems around the state. This comes as the Maui County Council unanimously passed Bill 135 on Friday, prohibiting the sale, distribution, or use of non-mineral sunscreens in Maui County.
Dena Sedar, an interpretive specialist with the DLNR Division of State Parks, coordinated the partnership that funded the sunscreen station. She and other ocean advocates were on hand to greet beach visitors with information on coral reef protection and the detrimental impacts chemical-based sunscreens have on corals, which are considered the foundation for healthy oceans.
In recent years Hawai‘i has made strides in attempting to reduce the volume of sunscreen chemicals flowing into the ocean. A statewide ban on the sale of sunscreens containing two specific chemicals went into effect earlier this year.
“Certainly, there has been great progress and increased awareness from both visitors and residents about the damage chemical sunscreens cause,” Sedar noted. “However, I still cringe when I see people applying chemical sunscreens or using aerosols. I want to approach them and explain that this is damaging the very reefs they’re about to snorkel on.”
She hopes the very visible dispenser at Waialea Bay will see heavy use. It was identified as a good place to start due to its extensive coral cover and the fact it was impacted greatly by coral bleaching events in recent years. Chemical sunscreens have been shown to slow or prevent recovery from bleaching events, disease, and other disturbances to coral reefs.
Sedar hopes other beach locations will see dispensers in the future. In addition to DSP other partners in the Waialea project were mineral sunscreen maker Raw Elements and the Coral Reef Alliance.