“Researchers believe that these ingredients are highly toxic to marine life”… and to humans !!! I almost never used sunscreen. We need a reasonable amount of natural sun exposure, on average 20 min a day which provides the necessary vitamin D.
Palau is set to become the first country to impose a widespread ban on sunscreen in an effort to protect its vulnerable coral reefs.
The government has signed a law that restricts the sale and use of sunscreen and skincare products that contain a list of ten different chemicals.
Researchers believe that these ingredients are highly toxic to marine life, and can make coral more susceptible to bleaching.
The ban comes into force in 2020.
In a statement, Palau’s President Tommy Remengesau said the ban, which would see fines of $1,000 (£760) for retailers who violated the law, was timely.
“The power to confiscate sunscreens should be enough to deter their non-commercial use, and these provisions walk a smart balance between educating tourists and scaring them away.”
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How do sunscreen products harm corals?
Scientists have been raising concerns about the impacts of sunscreen products on marine life for many years.
They are particularly worried over the role of two ingredients called oxybenzone and octinoxate. These are used as sun protection factors as they absorb ultraviolet light.
However, they are believed to make coral more susceptible to bleaching. Research published in 2015 showed that the oxybenzone could stunt the growth of baby corals and was toxic to several different coral species in laboratory tests.
“Oxybenxzone is probably the baddest actor out of the 10 chemicals that have been banned,” said Dr Craig Downs, an expert on the impacts of sunscreens on marine life.
“It causes corals to bleach at lower temperatures, and it reduces their resilience to climate change.”
Dr Downs says that when there’s a disastrous event like mass coral bleaching, reefs should recover over the following years. That has not been happening in many parts of the world.