Sunscreen Chemicals Banned in Hawaii
Hawaiian lawmakers recently banned the sale and distribution of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemicals are believed to be harmful to the ocean’s coral reefs. It is reported that up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen end up in coral reefs every year and the ingredients in these chemicals increase coral’s susceptibility to bleaching.
This ban is a great win for the environment, but it is also important to recognize the health-related implications. Sunscreens containing these chemicals often line the shelves in stores around the country, but if these chemicals are harmful to coral reefs, why do we think it’s safe to lather our bodies with them? This is even more alarming when we consider the bodies of our developing children.
While both oxybenzone and octinoxate are FDA-approved chemicals for providing protection from the sun, the EWG (Environmental Working Group) has warned that oxybenzone may have an impact on the endocrine system. Studies have indicated that increased levels of oxybenzone in adolescent boys led to lower testosterone levels. What is even more concerning is the EWG’s research that says oxybenzone has been detected in nearly every American’s blood. The EWG continues to promote sunscreen safety and awareness, including in their yearly guide to sunscreens.
Everyone over 6 months should always wear sunscreen when exposed to the sun. (Babies should be kept out of the sun, at 6 months check with your pediatrician.) The good news is there are sunscreens on the market that use minerals as their active ingredients as opposed to chemicals. For more information, please read our article: How to Find a Safer Sunscreen