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Hawaii To Ban Certain Sunscreens To Protect Coral Reefs (npr.org) 112

Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that would prohibit the sale of over-the-counter sunscreens containing chemicals they say are contributing to the destruction of the state's coral reefs and other ocean life. NPR reports: The chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are used in more than 3,500 of the world's most popular sunscreen products, including Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone and Banana Boat, would be prohibited. Prescription sunscreens containing those chemicals would still be permitted. As NPR reported, a 2015 study of coral reefs in Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Israel determined oxybenzone "leaches the coral of its nutrients and bleaches it white. It can also disrupt the development of fish and other wildlife." Even a small drop is enough to damage delicate corals. At the time, researchers estimated about 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotions end up in coral reefs around the world each year. Opposition to the ban came from sunscreen manufacturers, including Bayer, the maker of Coppertone. And the state's major doctors group said the ban goes too far. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser wrote: "Bayer said there are limited, active ingredients available within the U.S. with the same proven effectiveness as oxybenzone for sunscreens over SPF 50. The Hawaii Medical Association said it wanted the issue to be studied more deeply because there was a lack of peer-reviewed evidence suggesting sunscreen is a cause of coral bleaching, and overwhelming evidence that not wearing sunscreen increases cancer rates."
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Hawaii To Ban Certain Sunscreens To Protect Coral Reefs

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  • inb4 melanoma in hawaii skyrockets.
    • by Kokuyo ( 549451 )

      There are options of protecting oneself that do not involve those chemicals.

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        There are options of protecting oneself that do not involve those chemicals.

        Remember that we're talking about high SPF products here, and skin types prone to skin cancer, but prone to sweating. Products that have a high sun protection factor, survive sweating and only use FDA-approved chemicals are hard to find.
        There's clothing, but unfortunately, much of beach and swimwear is also made of materials or dyes that harm marine life, and most only gives partial coverage.
        Personal / family transparent UV domes, perhaps?

      • There are indeed alternatives and unfortunately some require a life style change:
        - thin, but sun blocking long sleeved clothing
        - spend more time in the shade
        - loose clothing, such as sarongs (seen in Asia and Pacific) or robes (seen in Middle East)
        - avoid the mid-day sun

        In many ways western culture is a bit crazy: go out in the mid day sun, with maximum skin exposure and make sure that is compensated by being in the sunniest location. I must admit

    • Re:inb4 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@world3.nBLUEet minus berry> on Thursday May 03, 2018 @07:46AM (#56545894) Homepage Journal

      Keep reading...

      "Bayer said there are limited, active ingredients available within the U.S. with the same proven effectiveness as oxybenzone for sunscreens over SPF 50."

      Sounds like a classic example of externalized costs. Cheaper ingredients that pass the cost on to coral reefs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        No sounds like regulation having unintended consequences. FDA decided to be super conservative about what chemistry you can put on people; to bad that forced the use of stuff that was a great deal more environmentally destructive.

        • by mysidia ( 191772 )

          to bad that forced the use of stuff that was a great deal more environmentally destructive.

          It doesn't seem there's any evidence that the use of sunscreens are environmentally destructive, and it would appear to be a fairly far-fetched claim.

          Someone forgot just how vast the ocean is, the dilutive properties of water, and how the unstable chemicals will degrade and never really come into contact with coral reef's in significant quantity, And people are simply using sunscreen, not dumping millions of ga

      • There are two categories of sunscreens - absorbers and blockers.

        Blockers physically block sunlight from penetrating. They are by far more effective, and don't need to be reapplied. But their big drawback is that they're visible when applied to the skin, so people don't want to use them. Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are the most common ones.

        Absorbers absorb the energy of UV light and change chemically, instead of letting the UV light get through to your skin and change your DNA chemically. So th
  • There's a shock. But then who cares about the enviroment when you have profit to worry about.

    https://www.newyorker.com/cart... [newyorker.com]

  • by jddj ( 1085169 ) on Thursday May 03, 2018 @06:53AM (#56545762) Journal

    The "active ingredients" being banned also degrade into end products that can mimic hormones, and/or promote skin cancer ( says the Environmental Working Group: https://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/... [ewg.org] ).

    Better for you (and maybe for coral) are sunscreens with mineral filters like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

    And nobody needs sunscreen over 50SPF, no matter what the manufacturers say. At 50, you're already protecting yourself from the sun AND the moon ('cuz you have equivalent-hours protection for way more hours than the sun is up).

    • In a place like Hawaii, the duration of protection is almost irrelevant anyways as you lose most of the sunscreen every time you enter the water. Even "active" sunscreens that market themselves as sweatproof or waterproof advise you to reapply after entering the water.
    • by mark-t ( 151149 )

      And nobody needs sunscreen over 50SPF, no matter what the manufacturers say

      How about what a person's own freakin' skin says?

      Some parts of my body, notably my shoulders and back, will burn in just minutes of being directly exposed to the sun without any protection, and it's an extremely painful lesson for being absent minded and forgetting to put some on.

      I've used SPF 50, and while I find that it's significantly better than no sunscreen at all, it lasts nowhere nearly long enough for me to be reliable

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Thursday May 03, 2018 @10:41AM (#56546554)

      And nobody needs sunscreen over 50SPF

      Sorry but that is just horseshit. A large number of people don't need sunscreen beyond SPF50. But there are plenty that do depending on the UV factor of where you are and how long you intend to stay in the sun. SPF30 may be good enough for a large portion of the population but try spend a day fishing in Australia. I applied SPF50 4 times over the course of the day. Got home with a sunburn.

      Though I do struggle to explain to europens why they see me in my facebook photo in the sun with a long sleeved shirt on. Never spend a day in the sun without SPF75, a rashie with a UPF of 50+, glasses, and a hat in some parts of the world.

      And no, SPF50 implies 50 times the protection time for your skin. In extreme UV environments you can most definitely burn in the hours the sun is up, even if your sunscreen is perfecly applied (it's not, it pretty much begins to fade in effecacy as soon as its applied), and more importantly you don't need to burn to affect your body. Just because you don't go home a tomatoe doesn't mean you didn't just put yourself at increased exposure to skin cancer.

      • If you are that sensitive to sun maybe dont live in a hot and sunny climate. Many people from the global South cant stand the Snow. Should they be rooting for Global Warming? It would be morally equivalent to what you are doing - desroy the planet so you can live in a part of the planet you are not evolved for.

        • If you are that sensitive to sun maybe dont live in a hot and sunny climate.

          Who said I live there? I just spent last winter at -45degC. Guess what, I wore warm cloths. Just like when I was in the sun (and most people in the world are that sensitive to the sun) I decide to take appropriate measures. ... e.g. SPF75 sunscreen.

          desroy the planet

          You need an incredibly huge dose of frigging reality if you think that me wearing SPF75 while on land inside a boat is somehow destroying the planet more than owning the boat is. You're doing far more damage simply buying cloths than most people who wear sunscree

          • by ghoul ( 157158 )

            Wearing climate appropriate clothes is the responsible solution. Externalizing the costs to the common environment is not whether that is wearing sunscreen or eating beef or burning coal.

      • by jddj ( 1085169 )

        Sorry, my Yankee-centricism is showing. Yeah, in .au of course it's different. Even the fucking house spiders are gunning for you...

        Also, I completely retract my original post on account of citing EWG. Another poster made me dig deeper on them.

      • SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB, while SPF 100 blocks a whole 99%. For UVA protection, you can't rely on SPF because it does not account for UVA at all. You can still get a sunburn from just UVA exposure.

        • by Rakarra ( 112805 )

          You should always get a sunblock that specifically lists on the bottle whether it blocks UVA.

    • by JBMcB ( 73720 )

      Yeah, sorry but that group is full of quacks. Read up on their cell phone radiation coverage, which pretty much goes against all mainstream scientific studies.

      • by jddj ( 1085169 )

        Thanks, you've made me smarter - have found critical coverage. Didn't even have to look at cell phone radiation.

        Would delete original post if I could.

        • Only reason I know about them is the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe podcast talked about them a year or so ago. On the surface they look pretty legit, it takes some scientific-paper-reading-skill above my pay grade to understand how they take stuff out of context and over-inflate the warnings some papers issue.

    • by jddj ( 1085169 )

      Replying to my own post 'cause I posted the Environmental Working Group as a cite. Would gladly retract Parent post. Another Slashdotter has pointed out to me their non-very-good reputation.

      Not saying anything at all about the science of its interaction with coral: have no expertise there.

  • by getuid() ( 1305889 ) on Thursday May 03, 2018 @07:37AM (#56545856) Homepage

    It's not the lack of sunscreen that gives you cancer, it's the overdose of UV light.

    Sunscreen protects you from sunburn, but not entirely from the UV damage. Just put on a light shirt and avoid direct exposure during midday hours. Also, go with the natural rhythm: your skin is more sensitive in the spring than in late summer, so adapt your timing. If you need to a spend long hours swimming at noon (like me), then put on a rash guard or wet shirt. Your skin has some built-in UV protection, and can even benefit from careful exposure. Just not enough to get you though a full day at the equator (if your white).

    Do the experiment yourself: put on sunblock and spend the day in the sun; then wonder why your skin is still warm and itchy in the evening, despite "protection". Or be careful to spend just as much time in the sun as your skin naturally permits without getting burned, and feel the difference in the evening.

    • Sunscreen protects you from sunburn, but not entirely from the UV damage

      How does it do that? .... Blocking UVB. The blocking of UV is literally the scale for SPF.

      Just put on a light shirt

      What shirt? How do you chose? Shirts don't magically block UV. It's highly dependent on material, weave, colour, etc. I hope you're picking a shirt with a UPF rating. UPF50 is simlar to SPF50. In some parts of the world I would highly recommend both at the same time!.

      Or be careful to spend just as much time in the sun as your skin naturally permits without getting burned

      From the how to get skincancer 101 guide. This is the dumbest thing that has been suggested in the comments so far, and there have been some very dumb com

      • Sunscreen protects you from sunburn, but not entirely from the UV damage

        How does it do that? .... Blocking UVB. The blocking of UV is literally the scale for SPF.

        I'm gonna leave this quote here form a study published Journal of Clinical Oncology (I don't have the exact paper, just managed to scrap together the quote from a newspaper article which, of course, didn't bother to give a citation):

        "The data generated from the study by Green et al is not sufficiently convincing to justify acceptance by the medical community as proof or even reassurance that sunscreen use prevents melanoma. Prevention of overexposure to ultraviolet light should focus instead on avoidance and the use of clothing and broad-brimmed hats to provide protection from the sun. Sunscreen does prevent sunburn. Whether or not the use of sunscreen prevents melanoma remains unknown. The present study, well executed for testing nonmelanoma skin cancer, did not prove that sunscreen use prevents melanoma. Because of the false sense of security engendered by sunscreen use, it may actually increase the risk of melanoma."

        This is not news. This kind of knowledge has been around since at least 10-15 years (that's the first time I got in contact with similar warnings). You should be able to google details yourself of you're interested.

        Just put on a light shirt

        What shirt? How do you chose? Shirts don't magically block UV. It's highly dependent on material, weave, colour, etc...

        How about the same way you're selecting your sun cream, by readi

        • This is not news. This kind of knowledge has been around since at least 10-15 years

          Well no fucking shit. Sunscreen only blocks UVB, there are other factors that affect melanoma. As for the false sense of security, horseshit. It may not prevent melanoma but it does a fuckton to reduce it, and that much is self evident in pretty much any places lying anywhere near the Tropic of Capricorn..

          How about the same way you're selecting your sun cream, by reading the effing label?!...

          That's my line. You're the idiot who suggested, and I quote: "Just put on a light shirt". If you would have said, grab a shit, read the label and wear it if the UPF rating suits conditions then I wouldn't

          • So far you haven't put one single consistent argument into the discussion. All you've done was being an offensive imbecile getting pissed at the fact that I haven't articulated my point precisely to your expected wording. You could have instead pointing out what you believe to have been inconsistencies or inaccuracies, and I could have explained that was referring to the broad idea first and would be happy to flesh in details if asked politely. This could have helped to move forward a constructive discussio

  • by Wdi ( 142463 ) on Thursday May 03, 2018 @08:32AM (#56546012)

    In Europe, about a dozen advanced sunscreen compounds (which avoid many of the shortcomings and dangers of older substances) are approved which are not yet (after more than 10 years of delays) FDA-certified.

    https://cen.acs.org/articles/93/i20/Decade-FDA-Still-Wont-Allow.html

  • One resort in the Caribbean had two bins of sunscreen for sale: one for lounging on the beach, the other for swimming in the water.

    No need for the coral-safe version if you are just going to sunbathe anyway . . .

  • Hawaii is right to protect to coral. We aren't in any danger of running out of humans, we have plenty to spare and making more doesn't take very long, Coral takes a very long time to make, and more importantly we can't make it to the same quality as nature can. Coral is innocent. Let humans take the fall fir once. We do the most fuckups. We should take our licks.
  • So.
    Dead coral BAAAAAD!
    Melanoma GOOOOD!

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!

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