Legislative bill proposes ban on sunscreen chemical harmful to coral reefs

News

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection 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.

The committee also moved House Bill 819 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.

Studies also show that oxybenzone increases the rate of coral bleaching.

When it comes to sunscreens, a user like Tiffnie Gutierrez says “typically, the first thing I look for is SPF, something 25 or higher, whether its non-comedogenic and if it’s going to make my skin break out. … I try to stick with the natural ones.”

To check if the sunscreen you use has oxybenzone, look at the label on the back of the bottle.

State Senator Will Espero (D/Ewa Beach, Ewa) is one of a group of legislators proposing a ban of all sunscreen products that contain oxybenzone, but adds “we are not going to be out there checking people on the beach and looking at their sunscreen.”

That’s because if the ban becomes law, you won’t be able to buy sunscreen with this chemical in local stores.

When asked if he thinks there will be any push-back from companies that use the chemical in their sunscreens, Espero said “I’ve already been approached by a lobbyist who is going to be advocating against our legislation.”

He said while there won’t be airport checks to make sure no one is importing the products to the islands, if the ban becomes law and goes into effect in July 2018, anyone caught selling or distributing sunscreens containing oxybenzone could face a misdemeanor.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.