HONOLULU (KHON2) ̵
Scientists said chemicals are causing havoc on Hawaii's reefs.
Senate Bill 2571 would ban the sale or distribution of sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate in Hawaii. The bill refers to the environment, in particular to water pollution.
If the legislature adopts the bill, it will come into force in July 2019. Legislators must decide by April 27, 2018.
Lisa Bishop, president of Friends of Hanauma Bay, is a staunch supporter of the ban.
"Probably for the last 30 years or so sunscreen pollution has been the main cause that the front reef does not recover." Most of the pre-reef is where tourists and visitors come for snorkeling, "Bishop said. "The chemicals in sunscreens damage coral DNA, killing the coral larvae as they hatch."
A recent study by dr. Craig Downs, managing director of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, showed significant concentrations of coral larvae pollutants in Hanauma Bay.
"Oxybenzone is toxic to limu at 10-parts-per-trillion," Downs said. "The lowest values were 30 parts per trillion and the highest was nearly 29,000 parts per trillion Hanauma Bay had the highest levels of oxybenzone we have seen anywhere in Hawaii."
Downs said the damage could kill the reef completely.
"If it continues, all nearshore rock structures or reef structures will disappear within the next 10 to 15 years, which will lead to massive erosion of the beach as it swells. Pollution will make Hanauma Bay important tourist attraction loses. "
Bishop said there was a way to prevent further damage to the bay.
"If we can at least stop oxybenzone and octinoxate Here in Hanauma Bay we have a chance to restore it," said Bishop.
Bishop said environmental pollution is not only bad for the environment. She said it was also harmful to humans.
"It's bad, especially bad for little kids."
Downs agreed. "I was there two years ago and I did not want to let my daughter in. The water was contaminated with these chemicals," Downs said.
But not all are for the ban.
Tina Yamaki, president of Hawaiian retailers, said she wanted to run more tests
"We are aware of the environment and the Aina, but we also need to balance it," Yamaki said. "People need to be able to use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, and that is what we are looking at … now they will be very limited."
Wilkie McClaren of the Safe Sunscreen Coalition said there simple and safe sunscreen .
"There are actually many, many options for sunscreens, and we even see them in Target, CVS, ABC, Walmart."
She explained how she should look in your sunscreen to make sure it's safe.
"Looking for a mineral sunscreen FDA has chemical sunscreens as active UVA filters and mineral sunscreens," McClaren said. "Minerals would be zinc and titanium, and you're looking for a non-nano zinc, a natural base, so you do not add fragrances and other toxins, and many companies provide it."