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Hawaii Bans Sunscreen Chemicals Harmful To Corals: What To Know About Safe Sun Protection

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Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill banning sunscreens with ingredients that are deemed harmful to coral reefs. What are other ways to protect the skin?

Hawaii Bans Oxybenzone And Octinoxate

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, it will be illegal to distribute or sell sunscreen products with the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate in Hawaii. That's according to a bill that has just been passed by lawmakers in the island state.

The bill is in response to evidence regarding the chemicals' harmful effects to coral reefs. Evidently, the chemicals can increase coral bleaching, inhibit the growth of new corals, reduce coral resiliency, and cause genetic damage to corals and other marine creatures.

The chemicals get to the water and coral reefs from swimmers wearing sunscreen, as well as from sewage contamination.

Sunscreen Use

Is it safe to use sunscreen? There has been some debate regarding the safety of such products, but according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), there are no published studies which state that sunscreen is bad for health. In fact, the organization further states that there is no data to show that oxybenzone causes any significant health and hormonal hazards in humans.

On the other hand, while there may be no significant human health hazards related to the use of sunscreens, studies have shown that certain chemicals in such products can, in fact, harm coral reefs and other marine life.

That said, it is extremely important to protect the skin from the sun's harmful radiation, especially since 90 percent of skin cancer cases are related to such exposures. Further, a previous study found that people who wear sunscreens significantly reduced their chances of developing melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.

Healthy Alternatives

So how can humans protect themselves without harming the environment? Fortunately, there are sunscreen alternatives that do not have harmful chemicals, and instead uses natural minerals to protect the skin. Such products may provide the needed protection without potentially harming the surroundings or causing irritation.

Further, there are other ways to protect the skin from harmful radiation apart from using sunscreens. For instance, it would be wise to avoid exposure during the peak hours of the sun which is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If exposure to the sun is inevitable, it's important to wear clothing that can cover the skin such as long sleeved tops and wide brimmed hats, and perhaps even sunglasses to protect the eyes.

Lastly, it's important to keep checking the skin for any abnormal growths such as misshapen moles or odd growths. Such skin irregularities must be checked by a professional for proper assessment.

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