Mazie Hirono and Tulsi Gabbard Sound the Alarm on Sunscreen
Before you douse yourself in sunscreen, the chemicals may not only be damaging to you but the environment as well. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) last week introduced the Oxybenzone and Octinoxate Impact Study Act, which would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study the issue. The measure, which Hirono introduced with Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), would direct the EPA to review the impacts of oxybenzone and octinoxate -- two of the chemicals found in sunscreen -- and require the findings be provided to Congress and the public within 18 months. Studies link these ingredients to damage to coral reefs including bleaching, disease, and damage to DNA, as well as decreased fertility in fish, impaired algae growth, defects in mussel and sea urchin young, and accumulation in the tissues of dolphins. Hirono says by conducting a comprehensive study on these two chemicals, the EPA will be able to better determine the impact these chemicals have on both human health and marine life, and what steps can be taken to prevent further damage to aquatic environments. “We cannot afford to continue losing our coral reefs, which are suffering from a number of threats such as warmer temperatures, more acidic waters, and disease,” Hirono said. Meanwhile, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)joined Hirono in introducing a lower chamber companion bill and also introduced the Reef Safe Act, which would require the Food and Drug Administration to develop standards for a ‘‘Reef Safe’’ designation for nonprescription sunscreens. “While proper skin protection is extremely important, we must make sure the ingredients used are safe for people and not jeopardizing the coral reef vital to local marine habitats and that help reduce coastal flood risk,” said Gabbard, a 2020 presidential candidate. About 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter the world's reefs every year, according to a 2015 paper published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. Last year, Hawai’i became the first state to enact legislation designed to protect coral reefs and marine ecosystems by banning sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate. More here.