On Wednesday U.S. Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced legislation to require the Environmental Protection Agency to study the impacts of oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals found in sunscreen believed harmful to humans and the environment.
“In Hawaii, we understand that our way of life depends on a healthy ocean. We cannot afford to continue losing our coral reefs, which are suffering from a number of threats such as warmer temperatures, more acidic waters, and disease, and that is why Hawaii has become a leader in taking steps to mitigate the harmful impacts of sunscreen on our marine environment,” Hirono said in a press release. “This bill, which requires a study on the human and environmental impacts of common sunscreen ingredients, will help inform the national discussion on actions needed to protect our oceans.”
Some types of sunscreen may be harmful to humans and corals.
According to Hirono’s office, the Oxybenzone and Octinoxate Impact Study Act would require the EPA’s findings be provided to Congress and the public within 18 months.
Last July, Gov. David Ige signed a bill that bans the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate in Hawaii beginning in 2021 — the first state to enact such a requirement.
“More research is needed, but studies have linked these ingredients to harming coral by causing bleaching, disease, and damage to DNA, as well as decreasing fertility in fish, impairing algae growth, inducing defects in mussel and sea urchin young, and accumulating in the tissues of dolphins,” according to the press release. “Just last month water tests showed extremely high concentrations of oxybenzone in a popular snorkeling area near Kona.”
Sign up for our FREE morning newsletter and face each day more informed.
A note to our readers . . .
There are upsides to being a nonprofit as we carry out our public-service mission. We don’t have a paywall on our site, charge a subscription fee, or clutter our articles with ads. But this also means that reader support sustains every aspect of what we do. Without you, we don’t exist. It’s as simple as that. By donating, you’re supporting everyone on staff—and allowing quality journalism to thrive. If you value our work, will you make a tax-deductible donation today?