Island nation Palau bans sunscreens with chemicals thought to harm coral

Mindy Sparks
November 7, 2018

The Republic of Palau signed The Responsible Tourism Education Act of 2018 into law Wednesday, making the tiny island nation the first country in the world to ban sunscreen products containing environmentally harmful ingredients, based in part on research conducted by BGU Professor Ariel Kushmaro.

Palau, which lies in the western Pacific about halfway between Australia and Japan, is regarded as one of the world's best diving destinations, but the government is concerned its popularity is coming at a cost. "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". These are all sun protection factor (SPF) chemicals used in sunscreen lotions or fragrances that absorb ultraviolet light from the sun.

Under the ban, which will take effect in 2020, "reef-toxic" sunscreen - defined as containing one of 10 prohibited chemicals, a list that could grow later - can be confiscated from tourists when they enter the country, and retailers who sell it can be fined up to $1,000. Marine biologists and environmentalists, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), say the banned substances can reduce the resiliency of ecosystems to climate change factors and, by themselves, prevent the recovery of degrading wildlife and habitats.

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

Palau's President also announced that all such creams seizures, when they are brought by foreign tourists into the country. January enter into force in 2020.

It has also banned commercial fishing from its waters and previous year introduced the "Palau Pledge" requiring global visitors to sign a promise stamped into their passport that they will respect the environment.

The law against "a coral poison-sunscreens" to 1.

He said there were some sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that were not reef toxic but added: "The other alternative we've been pushing is sunwear-cover up, wear a sunshirt".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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