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  • [The REDFORD CENTER and FANGAN FILMS present.]


  • Tourism is Hawaii's number one industry.

  • And we are very grateful to have visitors come from all over the world to enjoy our beaches and the rest of our natural resources.

  • However, the marine environments around an island are very fragile, and so the more visitors that we have, the more of an impact they have on all of our beaches.

  • We started noticing declines in coral reefs around 1980, 1985,

  • which is about the same time that personal care products like sunscreen lotion were used prominently by tourists going to these beaches, and visiting these coral reefs.

  • What we're doing is we're looking at Oxybenzone, a common UV chemical found in many sunscreen lotions and aerosol sprays.

  • Oxybenzone can cause an adverse effect in coral at 62 parts per trillion.

  • That is equivalent to one drop of water in six and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools.

  • So, you don't need a lot to cause a lot of damage.

  • [14000 TONS of sunscreen enter waters around coral reefs each year.]

  • [Is your sunscreen killing the reefs?]

  • The researchers that offered this revolutionary paper, they, in the lab, have seen that these compounds are lethal to coral and larvae.

  • It also sterilizes them and bleaches them at a lower temperature by 10 degrees.

  • What that means is that if we lose a coral to bleaching, or if it's damaged just from climate change, it can't recover.

  • Corals are animals.

  • They actually have a basic immune system that is a lot like humans.

  • They react when they're being stressed out.

  • They're white, they're stressed.

  • It's a lot like us when we're sick.

  • We're pale, and we're not as healthy.

  • And that's what's happening to the coral.

  • [Coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean floor, yet they support nearly 25% of all marine life.]

  • I've worked the last nearly decade on coral health and disease.

  • I never thought in my lifetime I would see reefs just completely wiped out by bleaching.

  • The level of alarm that I have now is higher than I thought it would ever be.

  • Coral reefs have declined: 40% in Hawaii, 50% in the Great Barrier Reef, 85% in the Caribbean, 99% in the Florida Keys.]

  • We lose those reefs, we lose a large amount of income from tourism, from biomedical products, from coastal protection, and really importantly to communities, from food.

  • Oxybenzone is a toxicant.

  • It can cause harm to humans, it can cause harm to mammals.

  • It causes harm to fish--at particular concentrations.

  • As it relates to human health, these chemicals are linked to causing breast cancer to become more aggressive, polluting breast milk, causing Hirschsprung deformity in newborns.

  • And associated with women's uterine diseases, threaten male sexual health, and can damage DNA.

  • There is evidence that Oxybenzone is even showing up in our aquifers and our drinking water.

  • [Oxybenzone is found in 97% of Americans. -the Centers for Disease Control]

  • What we put on our skin, it's gonna wash off, and it flows into the ocean whether you're in the middle of the U.S. in the mainland, or you're right next to the reef.

  • Mother dolphins are exposed all the time to oxybenzone because it's there polluting the marine environment.

  • And when the mother dolphins breastfeed, oxybenzone that is contaminating the mother passes on to the baby.

  • -Mr. President, I rise in strong support of the measure. -Please proceed.

  • Colleagues, this legislation is a big step for the protection of our coral reefs, marine life, and human health.

  • It will be the first law passed not only in the country, but in the entire world, to ban sunscreens that contain the dangerous chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate.

  • We have these global stressors that, in the foreseeable future, they're not going away.

  • Temperature is rising, we have increased CO2, ocean acidification.

  • But there's the local stressors, and if we can minimize those, we give the corals a far greater capacity to respond, adapt, and survive.

  • So, what's the easiest thing you control?

  • Don't put sunscreens that have harmful chemicals on them.

  • You can just put on a long sleeve rash guard.

  • You can use lotions that don't have that same impact.

  • There's little decisions like that that if we all do collectively that's gonna help this environment.

  • [Hawaii has banned the sale of sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate by 2021.]

  • [In the meantime, use sunblocks with non-nano zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.]

  • [To download a reef safe sunscreen guide, go to]


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B2 US coral sunscreen hawaii marine reef bleaching

Reefs At Risk - Hawaii bans sunscreens with oxybenzone

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    Estelle posted on 2020/08/14
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