The Green Hope Falcon

The World Without Toxic Sunscreen Begins With Hawaii

Coral+Reef+in+Hawaii.
Coral Reef in Hawaii.

Coral Reef in Hawaii.

Kerry Sullivan / Morning Ticker

Kerry Sullivan / Morning Ticker

Coral Reef in Hawaii.

Kaia Patel, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Sunscreen has always been an essential part of a typical summertime experience, with just the smell of artificial coconut bringing people’s minds to the beach. Since day one, we’ve been told to apply and reapply throughout the day, to protect against the sun’s harmful UV rays. God forbid you run into the pool before waiting at least ten minutes for your sunscreen to dry. Thanks to mom’s constant reminders, we have lathered our skin with the SPF 50 liberally, or we risked the chance of getting burned and ruining our skin. However, new research has surfaced, reporting that the very thing that has been protecting us from the sun, has also detrimentally affected the ocean life where we swim. Due to this, Hawaii has recently become the first state to ban the sale of certain sunscreens containing harmful chemicals to marine life.

Hawaii’s large tourist population, with nearly nine million in 2016, has both advantaged and disadvantaged the state in many ways. For one thing, these nine million people have contributed to the estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen found deposited annually in oceans, mainly in the reef areas of Hawaii and the Caribbean.  

The majority of cheap and affordable sunscreen available to many contains oxybenzone and octinoxate. Both these chemicals are toxic to the marine ecosystem, contributing to coral bleaching, slowing coral growth, and disturbing marine life, all of which contributed to the collapse of the Great Barrier Reef. The buildup of such chemicals is seen significantly higher in the waters of tourist areas, mainly Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Not willing to go the way of the Great Barrier Reef, Hawaii’s state ban on the sale of coral-killing chemicals is the first large-scale recognition of this problem. Some resorts and tour companies have also recommended against these harmful sunscreens, also known as biodegradable sunscreens, and instead propose sunscreens made with natural mineral ingredients (titanium oxide or zinc oxide) that are “reef friendly.”

Sunscreen companies and producers still have time to find safer, environmental-friendly sunscreen formulas, as the law won’t come into full effect until 2021. However, many companies are reluctant to adopt a safer formula, saying that chemicals that their sunscreens are FDA approved and are crucial to preventing skin cancer. The choice between protecting against skin cancer or being environmentally cautious cannot come down to the consumers. Companies need to start taking the initiative to produce the recommended sunscreens that will protect our world in the future. Mike Gabbard, who introduced the law, told the Star Advertiser newspaper, “So, Hawaii is definitely on the cutting edge by banning these dangerous chemicals in sunscreens. When you think about it, our island paradise, surrounded by coral reefs, is the perfect place to set the gold standard for the world to follow. This will make a huge difference in protecting our coral reefs, marine life, and human health.”

Hawaii’s new law should be an optimistic outlook on this problem, and hopefully, more areas will become aware of this problem and follow through with laws of their own. With the start of something like this, other places are sure to follow. We definitely don’t want another Great Barrier Reef to happen, leaving only ourselves to blame. Beginning prevention now will help our world in the future, where we can save many coral reefs and ocean life for generations to come.

About the Writer
Kaia Patel, Opinion Editor

Meet Kaia Patel. Kaia is a Junior this year. Over summer break she went to New York for
some sightseeing and time with family. She currently runs cross country for the school. When
she is not running, she is usually pretty occupied with her siblings, watching The Office, or
maybe listening to some T. Swift. Her favorite color is light green and she also loves to write for
fun, which is why she decided to join The Falcon. Kaia’s hope for this school year is to simply just
survive her junior year and also make it a good one!

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • The World Without Toxic Sunscreen Begins With Hawaii

    NEWS

    Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson Call off Engagement

  • The World Without Toxic Sunscreen Begins With Hawaii

    NEWS

    Oscar Romero Becomes a Saint

  • The World Without Toxic Sunscreen Begins With Hawaii

    NEWS

    FDA Taking Action Against Juul

  • The World Without Toxic Sunscreen Begins With Hawaii

    NEWS

    Tsunami Hits Indonesia

  • The World Without Toxic Sunscreen Begins With Hawaii

    NEWS

    On this Day in History: The Death of a Revolutionary

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






For students, by students
The World Without Toxic Sunscreen Begins With Hawaii