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Beachgoers and sunscreens are inseparable but people must realize that, while these compounds are good for the body, they are harmful to the environment. This is especially true for beaches in Hawaii whose coral reefs are a treasure to be preserved. They are the pride of the Hawaiians but people are probably ignorant about the ill effects of sunscreens on the coral reefs.

Sky News reports that Hawaii has passed a bill intended to block the sale of sunscreens that contain harmful chemicals that could damage the coral reef. The chemicals that can pose risks to the marine environment and ecosystems and have been identified.

The justification

The chemicals present in the sunscreens will damage the coral reefs and other marine life that do not possess any resistant power to adjust to climate change and coral bleaching. In addition, there will be a cascading effect on marine life and could lead to survival issues for several endangered species like the sea turtle.

Senators have voted in favor of the ban which, once signed by Governor David Ige, will make Hawaii the first U.S. state to enforce such a restriction. There was opposition to the proposal because Hawaii has beautiful beaches and the ban could have an adverse effect on those who want to enjoy the sunshine but cannot apply the sunscreen. However, the ban will come into force in 2021and the administration feels that locals, as well as tourists, will get enough time to adapt to the restrictions.

An alternative to sunscreens could be to wear rash guards or scuba wetsuits when going diving.

Australians are not convinced

Australia is seized with the problem of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, but there are not many takers in Australia for banning sunscreens as Hawaii plans to do. According to ABC News, there is far less enthusiasm for taking similar action because experts are doubtful about the evidence that led Hawaii to take such a decision.

In the opinion of Professor Terry Hughes from James Cook University, who has led research into the recent bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef, the real issues that are affecting coral reefs are climate change and vegetation management.

BBC adds that beaches that witness a large concentration of tourists should be cautious and play safe. Hawaii caters to millions of tourists every year and, a study regarding environmental contamination has estimated that nearly 12,000 metric tonnes of sunscreen end up washing into coral reefs. That is certainly a matter of concern.