Dinner Table Conversation: What Can Sunscreen Do?

July 6, 2018

Hawaiian Governor David Ige is doing something that has a lot of people wondering about their sunscreen. This week, Mr. Ige signed a bill that bans the sale of sunscreen containing two key ingredients: oxybenzone and octinoxate. Why? Well, these two chemicals could be harming the state’s coral reefs.

Sounds like a good ban, right? Well yes, but the ban doesn’t kick into effect until 2021. Even so, it means that harmful chemicals will stay out of the ocean. But critics aren’t quite convinced and are posing the question: What do we use for sunscreen? A majority of sunscreens contain the harmful ingredients, and they’ve been proven effective in protecting the skin. Critics believe that the key piece of research that convinced the Hawaiian governor isn’t reliable. Research has indeed proven that both ingredients can destroy young coral, but critics say many other things could contribute to the death of coral reef and that the two chemicals also come from ships discharging, not just from sunscreen.

But there is an alternative! Many sunscreens don’t contain these harmful ingredients, and many more such products could emerge that are both safe and effective. Now that’s good news for our skin and the ocean!

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