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Chemical Sunscreen Ban is Now in Effect at Kealakekua Bay State Park in Hawaii

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Chemical sunscreen restrictions for Kealakekua Bay State Historic Park are now in effect, one year ahead of a statewide ban on lotions containing reef-damaging chemicals. 

Sunscreen containing oxybenzone, octinoxate, octisalate, avobenzone, octocrylene, homosalate, and nano particles are not allowed. The restrictions took effect on Jan. 1, 2020, a year before a similar statewide ban takes effect.

Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park draws up to 500 visitors a day who kayak, snorkel or swim in its waters. Many are drawn by its coral reef and the aquatic life in and around it. 

Marine scientists believe the ban will have a big impact in the bay, where the ocean waters doesn’t circulate as quickly. 

“The water just tends to stick around for longer, and so the more people in the water every single day, the accumulation of sunscreen increases,” said Jamison Gove, a research oceanographer with NOAA who has studied reefs. 

In 2018, lawmakers passed a bill banning the sale of sunscreens with the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. Studies have shown that those chemicals can be toxic to reefs and marine life. 

The DLNR said that even though the law only covers two chemicals, it is recommending that people use only mineral-based sunscreens -- no chemicals of any kind -- especially in the bay.

The State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) has mandated that only reef-safe sunscreens can be used on commercials vessels permitted to operate in the bay. Reef-safe sunscreens contain the active mineral ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide.

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