This is What’s Trending Today…
Lawmakers in the American state of Hawaii have passed a bill banning sunscreens that can harm coral reefs.
If the state’s governor signs the bill, Hawaii would become the first state in the country to pass such a law.
The bill would ban the sale of sun care products that contain the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. Scientists say the two substances can harm coral, an important part of the ocean ecosystem and popular with tourists.
The chemicals are found in more than 3,500 sunscreens worldwide, including Coppertone and Banana Boat products.
Senator Mike Gabbard introduced the bill. He told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper, “Amazingly, this is a first-in-the-world law.”
He added, “Our island paradise, surrounded by coral reefs, is the perfect place to set the gold standard for the world to follow."
Craig Downs is a scientist. His 2015 peer-examined study found that oxybenzone threatened coral reefs. He found that as much as 14,000 tons of sunscreen ends up in coral reefs each year.
He said the Hawaii bill is “the first real chance that local reefs have to recover.”
Opponents of the bill question the science.
Tina Yamaki is the president of the Retail Merchants of Hawaii. She said there are still not enough independent studies on the issue to know whether the chemicals cause harm to coral. And, she said, the ban might keep people from buying sunscreen products from local stores.
The American Chemistry Council also opposed the bill, noting concerns over the risks of sun damage to skin.
Sharon Har was one of four Hawaiian lawmakers who voted against the bill.
She said, “Yes, we must protect the environment -- it is our number one resource -- but at the end of the day, studies have pointed to global warming, human contact, coastal development” as other major threats to coral.
Many sunscreen manufacturers already sell “reef-friendly” products. And companies still have some time to sell products that contain the two chemicals; the ban would not take effect until January 2021.
And that’s What’s Trending Today.
I’m Caty Weaver.
The Associated Press reported this story. Ashley Thompson adapted it for Learning English, with additional materials. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.
Words in This Story
sunscreen - n. a lotion that you put on your skin to prevent sunburn by blocking out some of the sun's rays
coral reef - n. a long line of coral that lies in warm, shallow water (coral: a hard material formed on the bottom of the sea by the skeletons of small creatures)
tourist - n. a person who travels to a place for pleasure
paradise - n. a very beautiful, pleasant, or peaceful place that seems to be perfect
standard - n. something that is very good and that is used to make judgments about the quality of other things
introduce - n. to present (something) for discussion or consideration
amazingly - adv. suprisingly; wonderfully
peer - n. a person who belongs to the same age group or social group as someone else
global - adj. of or about the whole world