For some of us, sunscreen is an essential part of a day at the beach. You've probably never really considered not bringing it, as we've all dealt with sunburn at least once before and are in no rush to relive that experience. The chemicals contained in sunscreen have protected skin from sunburn and skin cancer for decades, but could that convenience be coming to an end?
Well, The Weather Network announced earlier today that due to the effects sunscreen has on coral reefs, it's about to be banned on many beaches across the world. So, next time you visit one of these beaches, you might want to cover up a bit more than usual.
TL;DR Starting in 2020, beaches across the world will be banning sunscreen containing oxybenzone due to the negative effects on coral reefs. The beaches enforcing the new law are located in Palau, Florida, and Hawaii. More details below.
The news first came back in November 2018 when Palau, a tropical country in the Pacific Ocean, announced it would be banning certain kinds of sunscreen by 2020. The reason? Well, the reported effects on coral reefs such as bleaching, which can lead to the starvation and death of coral reefs if not addressed, was enough reason to have other beaches across the world following suit.
As of now, both Hawaii and Key West, Florida have passed laws that will go into effect in 2021 that ban the use of sunscreen on their beaches.
The new laws can be considered problematic, as test conditions to confirm sunscreens negative effects on coral was a far stretch from what actually happens in the ocean. The tests and exposure performed under a controlled environment are short and intense, which is vastly different from what corals are exposed to in the wild.
Regardless, you can expect these three locations (including all of Hawaii) to ban sunburn-savers with harmful chemicals from their beaches.
So, what can you do instead? There's no doubt that UV radiation has horrible effects on skin, which means if you do visit one of the beaches and have to ditch your sunscreen you should replace it with clothing and head gear with a UPF rating.
You can also look into "reef-friendly" sunscreens that lack oxybenzone (the chemical that damages coral reefs) which will still be allowed on beaches.
Alternatively, you can always just choose to visit a different beach that hasn't yet banned sunscreen.
Stay tuned for more information on the new sunscreen-banning laws.