Hawaii is as famous for its pristine tropical beaches as it is for its flower leis. Surrounded by sublime blue-green water stacked with tropical fish and stunning coral reefs, this paradise begs for swimmers, snorkelers and divers to dive in and enjoy nature's glorious underwater garden. However, a recent study lead by US scientist Craig Downs revealed evidence that a common ingredient in many sunscreens, oxybenzone, which is released into the sea in huge amounts from sunscreen-wearing water-goers, may be extremely harmful to the coral reefs. A separate Italian study found octinoxate, another common sunscreen ingredient, may also harm reefs making them sick and ultimately wipe them out. Scary science indeed.
Caring for their incredible natural environment is a very serious business for nature-loving Hawaiians, not to mention how important the coral reefs are for their huge tourism industry. Stepping up to this sunscreen versus coral challenge, Hawaiian state senator Will Espero has introduced a bill banning the sale of sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate to the state legislature. Hawaii's state legislative is in session for another two weeks, meaning it could pass the bill in the very near future. In the meantime, if a Hawaii vacay is on your upcoming travel timetable (lucky you), switch out the oxybenzone or octinoxate 'screens to a mineral sunscreen containing titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, so far these ingredients haven't been proven to harm the coral.