Hawaii has prohibited the sale of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. Hawaii’s Governor, David Ige, signed the corresponding law (S.B. NO. 2571) at the beginning of July. The ban goes into effect in 2021. For more information and quotes from David Ige, see the press release of July 3.
Octinoxate and oxybenzone are used as UV filters in day creams, lip balms, lipsticks, and, above all, in sunscreens. But the substances not only block UV light, but also harm corals and fish because of their hormone-like properties. American biologists Robert Richmond and Gregory Asner have studied the effects of oxybenzone on corals. Their findings? Initially, they affect reproduction, so that they are toxic to reproduction. Ultimately, long-term exposure kills corals. Notwithstanding, the hazardous effects of oxybenzone on corals has long been known. In an article that appeared in Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 2016, scientists affiliated with the ecotoxicologist Craig Downs noted the dangers of the substance.
Oxybenzone itself is contained in about 3,500 sunscreens. According to the National Park Service, some 4,000 to 6,000 tons of sunscreen eventually settle in highly sensitive ecosystems of coral reefs every year around the world.
The use of octinoxate (ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate) is regulated throughout the EU by Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009. It may be used as a UV filter up to a concentration of 10% (calculated as acid) in a ready-to-use preparation. Within the EU, oxybenzone may be used up to a concentration of 6% in cosmetics.
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