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CEO DATELINE – Trade groups decry Hawaiian sunscreen ban

July 3, 2018
By Walt Williams

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The state of Hawaii will soon ban sunscreens containing two chemicals state lawmakers say pose a danger to coral reefs, but groups representing the industry say the decision puts people’s health at risk.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige is expected to sign a bill this week banning sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, which supporters of the legislation say have been show to kill coral reefs, the Washington Post reported. Sunscreens with the chemicals will still be available to consumers with a prescription.

The proposed ban draws on research by U.S. scientists finding the chemicals could stunt the growth of baby corals and were toxic to some coral species, the journal Nature reported. Not all reef scientists agree the chemicals play a large a role in destroying coral, saying climate change and overfishing are more significant factors. Still, those same scientists said the chemicals could have an impact in areas with large numbers of tourists.

Some environmental groups have called for a ban on sunscreens containing the chemicals, with the Environmental Working Group being perhaps the most vocal. The Personal Care Products Association issued a statement in May disputing many of EWG’s claims.

“Year after year, EWG’s (sunscreen) shopping guide contains little new information in comparison to previous reports, and their 2018 edition is no different” PCCA said. “More importantly, the false claims made by EWG could actually keep consumers from using sunscreen altogether. For example, EWG’s assertion that there’s no evidence sunscreens prevent most skin cancers is not just false—it is irresponsible.”

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association responded directly to the Hawaii ban by saying “the health, safety and welfare of millions of Hawaii residents and tourists has been severely compromised.”

“Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that excess sun exposure without effective sunscreen increases the risk of developing skin cancer in both adults and children,” CHPA said in a statement. “Banning oxybenzone and octinoxate—key ingredients in effective sunscreens on the market—will drastically and unnecessarily reduce the selection of safe and effective sunscreen products available to residents and visitors.”

CEO Dateline will not be published on July 4, but will resume on Thursday, July 5.