Palau to ban sunscreen as it tries to save its coral reefs

Pacific island to introduce world-first 'reef-toxic' sunscreen ban

Pacific island to introduce world-first 'reef-toxic' sunscreen ban

The Pacific archipelago of Palau has become the first nation to ban sunscreens that some researchers believe are killing off coral reefs and damaging marine environments.

Most sunscreens sold in the USA contain one of the 10 chemicals that are now banned in the country, but alternatives do exist.

Palau's government has reportedly signed legislation that restricts the sale of sunscreen products that contain particular chemicals considered harmful to reefs.

According to another report by the, these two chemicals alone are used in over 3,500 popular sunscreen products worldwide.

The main issue stems around Palau's dive sites, which can see four boats an hour taking tourists to see the reef.

"On any given day that equates to gallons of sunscreen going into the ocean in Palau's famous dive spots and snorkelling places", he told AFP.

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

Retailers who break the ban will face fines of $1,000.

According to reports, the government intends to bring the ban into effect from January 1, 2020.

San Francisco 49ers cheerleader kneels during USA national anthem before game
The cheerleader is yet to be named and the team have not commented on the subject. "Even if it means sacrificing everything". This may be a first for National Football League cheerleaders, but it's not for cheerleaders in general.

The ban is expected to impact most major brands, with other chemicals targeted including octocrylene and parabens.

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.

The bill also puts front and centre the Palau Pledge, an eco-commitment all visitors must sign.

Craig Downs, executive director at the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory in Hawaii, said other nations would be watching Palau's move closely.

Dr Downs said if snorkellers and divers wanted to be more environmentally conscious, they could cover up and wear a sun shirt to reduce the amount of sunscreen they need to use.

"They don't want to be like Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, where they've had to shut down beaches".

There are fears these chemicals make coral more susceptible to bleaching and could stunt the growth of baby corals and that sunscreen pollution can affect reefs up to 5km away. NPR writes that 'even a small drop is enough to damage delicate corals.' The chemicals are known endocrine disrupters, causing feminization of male fish, reproductive diseases, and embryonic deformation.

"With the rise in skin cancer rates and the availability of more effective sunscreen actives such as micronized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide", a 2017 study with similar findings notes, "serious doubts about the relative prevention benefit of personal care products containing oxybenzone must be raised".

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