In January 1st 2020, Palau will be the first country in the world to ban the use of chemical based sunscreen with the purpose of protecting the marine wildlife. Research has shown that these chemicals have negative impacts on the environment such as impairing growth and photosynthesis of green algae, can induce coral bleaching, and can decrease the fertility and reproduction of fish.
This bill will prevent the importation of chemicals that can be found in sunscreen such as oxybenzone, octinoxate, and octocrylene. Any person that gets caught selling and distributing sunscreen products that have any of the following chemicals that are banned will result in confiscation along with a fine of $1000.
Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism along with the Bureau of Tourism and Palau Visitors Authority will work together to publicize this prohibition and discourage the use of reef-toxic sunscreens to international tourists.
One of the steps that Palau is taking to implement this ban is introducing an eco-friendly and biodegradable sunscreen called Stream2Sea. This item can be found in stores such as Surangel and Sam’s Tour. A winner of the “Natural Beauty Award at 2016, this mineral based sunscreen won’t sweat off or sting a person’s eyes. Additionally, it’s water-resistant for 80 minutes. Moreover, it cools and soothes sunburn, underwater stings, and insect bites.
In a letter to the Olbiil Era Kelulau, President Remengesau expressed that “this ban on reef-toxic sunscreens is especially timely, given the recent decision of traditional and government authorities in Koror State to reopen the world-famous Jellyfish Lake. A big impetus for this legislation was the Coral Reef Research Foundation’s 2017 report, which found sunscreen products wide spread in Jellyfish Lake. Supported by input and recommendations from the Palau International Coral Reef Center, this provision is an excellent example of legislation that is responsive to modern science.”
Finally, places such as Hawaii and the U.S Virgin Islands have also announced that they will be banning chemical-based sunscreen which will be effective in March 2020 for the Virgin Islands and the beginning of 2021 for Hawaii. (Telbakes Yano)