Lawmakers OK ban on sale of sunscreens linked to coral damage

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii lawmakers approved a ban Tuesday on the sale of sunscreens with chemicals that could be harmful to the environment.

At a science class at Kaimuki Middle School, students learn to make homemade sunscreen. It includes bees wax, shea butter, a mix of oils and non nano zinc oxide for sun protection.

"I think it's really cool because I know it doesn't have oxybenzone so when I use it. I won't think it hurt the coral reefs," said Lochlan Ajimine, a 6th grade student in Nicole Ross' science class.

The husband and wife founders of organic sunscreen maker, Little Hands Hawaii, have been teaching their techniques and advocating for a ban on the sale of sunscreen with oxybenzone and octinoxate, two common chemicals which some studies show harm coral reefs.

"I think it's both very important for our bodies and for the environment and also for the keiki. They are so little and they need good stuff going on to them," said Rosalyn Ardoin, co-founder of Little Hands Hawaii.

During Tuesday's demonstration, Ardoin and her husband and co-founder, Michael Koenigs learned the legislature approved the ban.

"Yeah, give me five, awesome,' cheered the couple as they gave each other high-fives.


But cancer experts say the ban could damage human health. They question the science and worry people will be discouraged from using sunscreen since many alternatives cost significantly more.

"Right now the cost of these so-called reef friendly products ranges any where from two times to six to eight times more than what's on most of the shelves now," said Karen Glanz, a professor at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center.

It's expected many people will still bring sunscreen from outside the state and it can still be sold as an ingredient in cosmetics.

The bill is expected to be approved by the Governor, but still needs to go through a legal review. It would go into effect in January 2021. 

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