Palau bans some sunscreens to protect coral

Christopher Davidson
November 7, 2018

Part of the impetus for this legislation was a report that the Coral Reef Research Foundation (CRRF) released previous year, which found that harmful sunscreen chemicals were widespread in Palau's Jellyfish Lake, which is on Unesco's World Heritage List.

Palau is one of the smallest countries in the world, and a popular destination for scuba diving enthusiasts. "Any given day, that would equate to three or five gallons of sunscreen into the ocean and Palau's famous dive spots, snorkelling, biodiversity and coral".

"We're just looking at what we can do to prevent pollution getting into the environment".

Palau's President also announced that all such creams seizures, when they are brought by foreign tourists into the country. Effective 1 January 2020, any of these products that the country has dubbed "reef toxic" will be illegal to sell in Palau, including those with oxybenzone, octinoxate, octocrylene, triclosan and several parabens. These are all sun protection factor (SPF) chemicals used in sunscreen lotions or fragrances that absorb ultraviolet light from the sun.

In July, the USA state of Hawaii passed legislation that bans the sale and distribution of reef-toxic sunscreens starting in 2021.

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Palau has always been a pioneer in marine protection, introducing the world's first shark sanctuary in 2009, in a move that has been widely imitated.

Craig Downs, executive director at the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Hawaii, said other nations would be watching Palau's move closely. "I think it's great, they're being proactive", he said.

The resulting damage to coral reefs, including coral bleaching, in the South Pacific, Caribbean, Australia, Eilat and elsewhere poses a threat to one-quarter of marine species, threatens shorelines as well as vibrant tourism in affected areas.

The law against "a coral poison-sunscreens" to 1. Sunscreens are also important protection for humans under the sun. Meanwhile, manufacturers have started selling sunscreens that are "reef-friendly" and don't contain any banned ingredients.

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