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U.S. Virgin Islands bans coral-damaging sunscreens
by Heather Gies
Mongabay Translate This Article
17 July 2019
On 17 July 2019 Mongabay reported:
On June 25, lawmakers in the U.S. Virgin Islands voted to ban common chemical sunscreen ingredients that can damage coral reefs. With the ban, the U.S. Virgin Islands joins a handful of other jurisdictions around the world pioneering action on harmful sunscreens. It will be the first such ban to take effect in the United States, followed by Hawaii and Key West, Florida, and among the first internationally.
Global Good News service views this news as a sign of rising positivity in the field of science, documenting the growth of life-supporting, evolutionary trends.
Beachgoers in the U.S. Virgin Islands will be slathering on more ecologically friendly sunscreens next year after lawmakers voted to ban common chemical sunscreen ingredients that can damage coral reefs. With the ban, the U.S. Virgin Islands joins a handful of other jurisdictions around the world pioneering action on harmful sunscreens. It targets one more ingredient than most similar laws, however, and will be the first to take effect in the United States and among the first internationally.
The new law, passed unanimously in the U.S. Virgin Islands' legislature on June 25, targets oxybenzone, octocrylene, and octinoxate, three UV-blocking chemicals found in most mainstream commercial sunscreen products in the United States. Studies have shown they harm coral and other marine ecosystems. Imports of sunscreens containing the chemicals will be outlawed as of Sept. 30, 2019; the ban on their distribution, sale, possession and use will take effect March 30, 2020.
Craig Downs, executive director of the Virginia-based nonprofit Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, said outlawing harmful sunscreen ingredients is 'low hanging fruit' when it comes to addressing threats to fragile reef ecosystems. 'Degraded water quality,' to which sunscreen pollution contributes, represents 'the greatest nemesis to coral reefs,' he said.
In a 2016 paper, Downs and fellow researchers found that one of the three targeted chemicals, oxybenzone, 'poses a hazard to coral reef conservation and threatens the resiliency of coral reefs to climate change' by deforming young coral and damaging coral DNA. The study is part of a growing body of research driving momentum toward legislative action on sunscreen contamination.
Researchers estimate that globally reef area waters drink up between 6,000 and 14,000 tons of sunscreen every year. But while sunscreen is one tangible pollutant, climate change and ocean acidification pose even bigger threats to reefs.
... In the Caribbean, coral has suffered at least a 50 percent decline over the last half-century and could all but vanish in the next two decades without urgent conservation efforts, according to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. A key factor is a severe international bout of coral bleaching, in which reefs lose their color and defenses. ...
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