Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Island Paradise Palau to Be First Country to Ban Reef-Killing Sunscreen

Oceans
Island Paradise Palau to Be First Country to Ban Reef-Killing Sunscreen
Palau is banning reef-killing sunscreens to protect the coral and marine life in its popular dive spots. Westend61 / Getty Images

The Western Pacific nation of Palau will become the first country in the world to impose a ban on sunscreens toxic to coral reefs, NPR reported Friday.

Hawaii passed a reef-harming sunscreen ban this summer, but the state law does not go into effect until 2021. Palau's law, passed this week, will go into effect in 2020. After that time, retailers will be fined $1,000 for selling sunscreens that contain 10 chemicals researchers believe are harmful to coral and other marine life, including oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are used in the majority of U.S. sunscreens.


"This short but important bill has the potential to make a lasting impact on the environment here," President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., wrote in a letter introducing the bill.

The sunscreen ban is part of a larger push to reduce the impact of tourism on the archipelago's unique biodiversity. As of last year, all visitors are required to sign a "Palau Pledge" stamped into their passports saying they will protect the environment, The Guardian reported.

Sunscreen containing certain chemicals is a threat because studies have found these chemicals can make coral less resistant to the coral bleaching that accompanies climate change. They can also inhibit the growth of young corals.

"If our most famous tour sites have four boats each hour, [and tourists] need at least one ounce of sunscreen to cover up, that can equate to a gallon every three hours," government spokesman Olkeriil Kazuo told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, according to the Huffington Post. "Any given day, that would equate to three or five gallons of sunscreen into the ocean and Palau's famous dive spots, snorkeling, biodiversity and coral."

Kazuo told NPR that one of the biggest motivators for the law was a 2017 study finding toxins from sunscreens in the country's unique Jellyfish Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The famous lake was closed for more than a year because the jellyfish were disappearing, the Huffington Post reported.

The jellyfish in Palau's famous lake are in danger from toxic sunscreen chemicals.Lukas / CC BY 2.0

"It's the first country to ban these chemicals from tourism. I think it's great, they're being proactive," Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Hawaii Executive Director Craig Downs told The Guardian. "They don't want to be like Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, where they've had to shut down beaches. The coral reefs around those beaches have died."

For example, Thailand announced in October that it would have to close Maya Bay, made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Beach, indefinitely. Pollution from boats and sunscreen had killed 80 percent of its corals.

For divers who want to protect wildlife while staying sun-safe, you can lather up with sunscreens that use zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which do not harm coral reefs. Or you can wear protective gear.

On an industry level, Downs told BBC News that sunscreen makers are responding to bans like Hawaii's and now Palau's with a mix of resistance and enthusiasm.

"The big boys are fighting it. Johnson & Johnson and L'Oreal don't seem to be on board," Downs said. "But much of the rest of the industry have already come out with what they are calling 'Hawaii-compliant sunscreen,' and it is a big marketing boost for them."

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will boost the immune system. Stevens Fremont / The Image Bank / Getty Images

By Grayson Jaggers

The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A graphic shows how Rhoel Dinglasan's smartphone-based saliva test works. University of Florida

As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less
A plastic bag caught in a tree in New Jersey's Palisades Park. James Leynse / Stone / Getty Images

New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.

Read More Show Less

Did you know that nearly 30% of adults do, or will, suffer from a sleep condition at some point in their life? Anyone who has experienced disruptions in their sleep is familiar with the havoc that it can wreak on your body and mind. Lack of sleep, for one, can lead to anxiety and lethargy in the short-term. In the long-term, sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Fortunately, there are proven natural supplements that can reduce insomnia and improve quality sleep for the better. CBD oil, in particular, has been scientifically proven to promote relaxing and fulfilling sleep. Best of all, CBD is non-addictive, widely available, and affordable for just about everyone to enjoy. For these very reasons, we have put together a comprehensive guide on the best CBD oil for sleep. Our goal is to provide objective, transparent information about CBD products so you are an informed buyer.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch