It’s time to acknowledge the fact that climate change and global warming aren’t the only factors resulting in the white graveyards of corals underwater. The sunscreen lotions are also responsible. Well, most of them are!
Hawaii is taking things in hand to protect its precious coral reefs. The sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate are to be banned in the area. The two chemicals are, proved by studies, lethal to coral reefs as well as marine ecosystem and usually end up in the ocean, directly or indirectly. The Governor of Hawaii David lge signed the bill on Tuesday, which prohibits the sale and distribution of these sunscreens.
“We are blessed in Hawaii to be home of some of the most beautiful natural resources on the planet, but our natural environment is fragile and our own interaction with the earth can have everlasting impacts,” he said in the ceremony. “This bill is a small first step worldwide to really caring about our corals and our reefs in a way that no one else anywhere in the world has done.”
The ban will be implemented from January 2021. The chemicals to be banned is present in 70% of the sunscreens available, generally the ones with an SPF (sun protection factor) of more than 50. The surprising fact is that the alternatives to these two chemicals exist and they are perfectly safe and available.
The petition was filed by the Center for Biological Diversity in May this year with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
According to the petition, “Oxybenzone is particularly toxic to corals at concentrations as low as a few parts per trillion — the equivalent of three drops in an Olympic-size swimming pool may be enough to severely damage or kill coral”. It also mentioned, “Beach-goers and vacationers, eager to snorkel and marvel at coral reefs, may be inadvertently killing the very corals they are observing as the sunscreen they applied to their skin washes off into the ocean.”
Hawaii islands are home to some of the world’s most beautiful and only left coral reef beds. The coral reefs are tiny animals that provide food and shelter for more than half of the world’s marine life.
But the pace they are dying due to the bleaching, a phenomenon that leaves the coral dead and colourless, is staggering. Being careful of little things can create a lot of impact for the better. Simple sustainable changes in lifestyle can make a difference.
“It’s something we can do right now,” said Emily Jeffers, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “We can stop using these sunscreens that harm corals, so let’s do it. A lot of the other threats that corals are facing are big problems — ocean warming, ocean acidification, overfishing. This is an easy step for people to take right now. We don’t need to use these sunscreens that put chemicals in the water that kill corals.”