Action Alert: Coral Reefs in Danger
Sunscreen Chemicals Cause Damage
Coral reefs are a vital part of the ecosystem. Marine life depends on them for food and habitat, and they help protect our shorelines from erosion. Hawai`i’s coral reefs have been impacted by coral bleaching, which is threatening marine species not found anywhere else in the world.
Studies show that oxybenzone and other chemicals (see sidebar) used in sunscreens are causing the bleaching. Concentrations of oxybenzone have been found at more than 30 times the level considered safe for coral in some Hawaiian waters. People are also faced with skin and hormonal effects of using oxybenzone.
What Can Be Done
On a Personal Level – Further deterioration of our reefs can be prevented by limiting the sale of sunscreens with oxybenzone. Sunscreen is important to protect skin from damaging radiation, and we’re not suggesting that people stop using sunscreen. We are asking that people use coral-safe alternatives. Some safe options that are readily available are zinc oxide- and titanium dioxide-based sunscreens. Harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays can also be blocked with rash guards and wetsuits. Individuals can also help by reading product labels and not buying sunscreens containing oxybenzone.
On a Community Level – Speak out to stop the use of coral-damaging sunscreens. Just like Hawai`i has worked to protect the environment through a ban on plastic bags, we can take action to prohibit these chemicals from being used in Hawai`i. Other communities with reefs, like Mexico and the Caribbean, are taking steps to ban such sunscreens. As a community, we need to protect our reefs and give them a chance to recover and thrive.
To Learn More
- Visit the Department of Land and Natural Resources joint news release at dlnr.Hawaii.gov/blog/2016/09/03/nr16-182.
- Visit National Public Radio at npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/10/20/450276158/chemicals-in-sunscreen-are-harming-coral-reefs-says-new-study.
Sign a Petition for Change
In January, a bill was introduced to the Hawaii State Congress which would ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. Opposition is expected from some sunscreen manufacturers.
If you would like to sign the petition to prohibit these chemicals in sunscreen, visit Change.org/p/ban-the-sale-of-coral-damaging-sunscreen-in-hawaii.
Ingredients to Avoid
- 4-methylbenzylidine camphor
Some Safe Sunscreen Options
- Hawaii Medicinal Surf Stick, SPF 44 & SPF 40
- Hawaii Medicinal Body Block, SPF 30
- Caribbean Solutions Biodegradable, SPF 25
- KINeSYS Zinc Ointment, SPF 30
- Badger Sunscreen Cream, Unscented, SPF 30
- UV Natural Sport Lip Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- Badger Broad Spectrum Sport Face Stick, SPF 35
- Eco Logical All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- Elemental Herbs Sport Sunscreen, SPF 30+
- Green Screen D Organic Sunscreen, Original, SPF 35
- BurnOut Ocean Tested Physical Sunscreen, SPF 30
- Raw Elements USA Eco Formula, SPF 30
- KINeSYS Spray (unscented), SPF 30
- All Terrain KidSport, SPF 30
Here is the Link: