Hawaii Bans Toxic Sunscreen Ingredients

Reader Contribution by Environmental Working Group
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The state of Hawaii has recently passed a bill banning sunscreens containing two toxic ingredients: oxybenzone and octinoxate.

The two chemicals are found in many popular sunscreens sold in the United States, and have been linked to hormone disruption in people and the bleaching of coral reefs and coral death. Oxybenzone specifically causes allergic skin reactions and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is detected in the blood of more than 96 percent of Americans.

If this bill becomes a law, the state’s ban would go into effect in 2021. This would give sunscreen manufacturers time to accelerate the production of sunscreens with safer ingredients and more effective chemicals for sun protection.

“This is a kick in the pants to both the sunscreen industry and the Food and Drug Administration to move to safer and more effective chemical filters for sunscreen,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “The Hawaii ban calls attention to the fact that the sunscreen market is flooded with products that use potentially harmful ingredients and provide poor UVA protection.”

Europeans already have access to safer and more effective sunscreen options compared to products available in the United States. While sunscreens available in the United States do prevent sunburn when used properly, they do not protect the skin from UVA damage as effectively as European products. Many of these European sunscreens use mineral-based, using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to filter harmful radiation.

Current laws in America are underway, but approvals have been delayed for years. Many sunscreen companies have gone to the FDA for approval to use chemicals used in Europeans sunscreens, but the FDA has failed to respond to these requests. This failure to respond to sunscreen company requests promoted Congress to pass the Sunscreen Innovation Act of 2014, which requires the FDA to respond to requests within 300 days. However, these companies must go through rigorous steps to prove that their ingredients and products are effective and safe, which can delay the products reaching shelves in America for years.

“Consumers want safer ingredients that the sunscreen industry and the FDA have not provided in the U.S. Most of the products sold in the U.S. aren’t as good as they should be and don’t offer enough protection against ultraviolet rays.”

Although the American sunscreen market seems to be behind the rest of the world, Hawaii’s move to ban these harmful ingredients has the potential to launch the rest of the country to take the same course of action.


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