by Cayce McCarthy. Arts and Entertainment blogger.
Hawaii is becoming the first nation to ban and make certain sunscreens illegal. A bill was passed by Hawaiian legislation this past May that bans sunscreens that obtain the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate; two chemicals that scientists lawmakers agree that are harming the reefs. Sunscreen damages reefs through a process known as a coral bleaching. This is when the coral is exposed to warmer water temperatures and other factors that cause the corals to expel the algae known as zooxanthellae that live in their tissue.
This causes the coral to lose its pigmentation and makes the coral go white; hence the name. This phenomenon has affected Hawaii’s reefs for a long time now and 56% of Big Island’s coral has been bleached. Reefs help protect the ocean shoreline like Hawaii’s from damaging waves and tropical storms. Coral reefs are a vital part of our ocean’s ecosystem as well. They provide a habitat for thousands of marine lives, are a vital source of nitrogen and other nutrients for the marine food chain, they assist in carbon and nitrogen-fixing; which in turn helps with the ocean’s nutrient system.
Also, they help the fishing industry, the tourism industry, and they provide scientist with evidence of climatic events that happened over millions of years ago. Sadly, more of these reefs are going endangered and one-fifth of the world’s reefs have died off. Sunscreen is a part of the problem but so is warmer water temperatures and other stressful environmental events that can harm the polyps in coral. Some of the sunscreens being banned are Coppertone and Banana Boat and of course both companies are pushing their products saying how will people protect themselves from the sun? Easy by buying sunscreen without the harmful chemicals that are on the market.
Some coral friendly sunscreens include Raw Love sunscreen that’s actually made in Maui, Deter Mineral Reef Safe sunscreen, Maui Surfer Natural Honey sunscreen, Badger Sunscreen Cream, Badger Broad Spectrum Sports face stick, and more. These products can be purchased off websites like Amazon.com and in stores. Other than these sunscreens buy zinc or tin-based sunscreens, avoid the instant spray on ones that turn into grey goop on your skin afterward, don’t use products with the mentioned harmful chemicals so read the label carefully. There are sunscreens that also have other harmful chemicals such as avobenzone, octocrylene, and homosalate; these chemicals are found in sunscreen with nanoparticles. Go on cruise ships, scuba/snorkeling boat groups that don’t allow harmful sunscreen and cover up if you can.