The Aloha State is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and, thankfully, officials there are taking steps to protect the state’s coral reefs.
In 2018, Hawaii became the first state to ban sunscreens that contain chemicals that damage or even kill the coral reefs surrounding the islands. Roughly 3,500 sunscreen brands contain the compounds oxybenzone and octinoxate, which can both harm coral, which, in turn, can kill marine life.
Oxybenzone poisons the algae that reside in coral and prevents the larvae in coral from developing normally. If algae are not present, the coral’s waste doesn’t have a way to be cleared out and the coral turns white, losing its vibrant colors. Baby coral can also be stunted due to exposure to these chemicals.
Hawaiian lawmakers felt the scientific evidence was strong enough to justify the vote. The state has more than 410,000 acres of coral reefs in the waters surrounding its islands. 14,000 tons of sunscreen that melts away from swimmers’ bodies ends up in Hawaii’s coral reefs, and officials felt the new law was crucial for the survival of the reefs.
And even if you aren’t going to be in Hawaii, you can still wear sunscreen that is less harmful to the environment. One brand to keep an eye out for is Stream2Sea. Have fun at the beach this summer!
h/t: Mental Floss