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Don’t stop using sunscreen, despite Hawaiian ban

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ASMI has expressed concern following reports that Hawaii is poised to ban certain types of sunscreen

A bill banning the sales and distribution of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate was passed through Hawaii’s upper and lower houses last week, and it’s expected that state governor David Ige will sign off on the bill.

These ingredients are included in some of the world’s most popular sunscreens, including some top-popular Australian products.

The New Daily suggests that if Australia was to consider similar legislation, up to 40% of products available here would be affected, including products by Banana Boat, Ego Sunsense, Neutrogena and Cetaphil.

The Hawaiian bill was proposed by state Democrat Senator Mike Gabbard, reports Hawaii’s Star-Advertiser, in a bid to protect coral reefs.

“Hawaii is definitely on the cutting edge by banning these dangerous chemicals in sunscreens,” Senator Gabbard told the paper.

“When you think about it, our island paradise, surrounded by coral reefs, is the perfect place to set the gold standard for the world to follow. This will make a huge difference in protecting our coral reefs, marine life, and human health.”

It is believed that the sunscreen ingredients may be linked to coral bleaching.

ASMI’s Regulatory and Legal Director Steve Scarff says that the organisation, however, is not convinced.

“This does not appear to be an evidence-based outcome and we note reports that the Hawaii Medical Association, the Hawaii Dermatological Society, the Hawaii Skin Cancer Coalition, and the Hawaii Department of Health have also expressed concerns with this legislation,” he said in a statement.

“There is insufficient evidence that the use of sunscreens which include these active ingredients is damaging corals reefs.  

“The evidence that has underpinned this decision cannot be relied on to predict outcomes in the real world. This ban also ignores some very real and confounding factors known to be causing coral decline around the world, those of rising water temperatures, agricultural runoff, sewage, and overfishing.

“At the same time there is very good evidence that wearing sunscreen is an effective measure in preventing skin cancer and that at least two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.

“Members of the public should not be deterred from using sunscreen.

“There is insufficient evidence to warrant a departure from current sunscreen regulation in Australia.”

If the Hawaiian legislation is signed, it will come into effect from 1 January 2021.

Hawaii would become the first US state to implement such legislation.

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