Healthy Living: Sunscreen ban in Hawaii to protect coral reefs

Hawaii may become the first state to ban the sale and distribution of certain sunscreens in an effort to protect coral reefs.   It's estimated about 14,000 tons of sunscreen enters the world's reefs every year.  Research suggests two chemicals in many sunscreens, oxybenzone and octinoxate may be harmful to the ocean ecosystems

As a result, state lawmakers in Hawaii passed a bill this week that would ban the sale of sunscreens containing those chemicals.  A study found chemicals in many sunscreens that help protect skin from UV rays, also seep into young coral and contribute to coral bleaching.  Researchers say the chemicals can kill the nutrients that sustain marine life.

Critics argue a sunscreen ban would discourage people from wearing sunscreen at all and lead to an increased risk for skin damage and cancer.  If the ban is signed by the governor of Hawaii, it would take effect in January of 2021.

According to the Environmental Working Group, the safest sunscreens in terms of chemicals are those that instead use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

Recently, Hawaiian Airlines began offering passengers free samples of sunscreens on trips to the islands made from natural ingredients and free of chemicals.