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Ban On Many Sunscreen Products Likely To Pass In Hawaii Senate

Date: 2nd March 2017

Source: Civil Beat
Author: Nathan Eagle

The Democratic Party, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and others are urging the House to follow suit, but the measure faces opposition there.

The Hawaii Senate is on track to pass a bill banning the use of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, which studies have shown harms coral reefs.

But with mounting opposition from convenience store owners and personal care product companies, the legislation’s fate in the House remains uncertain.

Nearly 9 million tourists who visit Hawaii each year, along with the state’s 1.4 million residents, would have to start paying closer attention to the labels on their sunscreen containers if Senate Bill 1150 becomes law. It would prohibit the use of sunscreens or cosmetics that contain oxybenzone while on a beach or in the ocean.

On Thursday, it cleared the Judiciary and Labor Committee, chaired by Sen. Gil Keith-Agaran.

Scientists have conducted studies that show products containing the chemical — the active ingredient in many sunscreens — contribute to the destruction of coral reefs and weaken their ability to mitigate the effects of climate change.

People would instead have to switch to sunscreens containing zinc oxide or other mineral blockers that still protect against the sun’s cancer-causing UVA and UVB rays but aren’t known to hurt corals. Supporters of the ban also suggest wearing rash guards or other lightweight long-sleeved clothing as an alternative sun block.

The bill’s next stop is a vote before the full Senate, where it’s expected to pass.

It could be a different story in the House, where Rep. Angus McKelvey, chairs of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee, has so far blocked oxybenzone-related bills from advancing.

The House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee, chaired by Rep. Chris Lee, passed two oxybenzone-related bills, one banning the sale of products containing the chemical and another requiring any advertisements or displays for sunscreens with oxybenzone to include a warning about how its use in nearshore waters poses serious hazards to coral and reef health.

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