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The Government of Thailand Bans Coral-Damaging Sunscreens

The Government of Thailand Bans Coral-Damaging Sunscreens

The Thailand government recently banned sunscreens containing chemicals that damage coral reefs in marine national parks.

The kingdom's tropical beaches have long been popular destinations for millions of tourists, but concerns are growing that the lotions they use as protection from the tropical sun are harming delicate, slow-growing corals.

An order came into force banning lotions containing hazardous chemicals like Oxybenzone, Benzophenone-1, Benzophenone-8, OD-PABA, 4-Methyl benzylidene camphor, 3-Benzylidene camphor, nano-titanium dioxide, nano-zinc oxide, Octinoxate, Octocrylene, that negatively affect marine life.

Most mineral sunscreens contain nano-zinc oxide and/or nano-titanium dioxide, which are micronized particles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Companies formulate with these ingredients because it’s a faster route to formulate a mineral sunscreen with these nano particle size ingredients. Using micronized particles allows for less whitening on the skin using smaller size mineral particles. As well, these nano (micronized particles) do not perform as well as non-nano particles. The non-nano ingredients are more opaque and therefore absorb and reflect more UV light, making them more effective than nano particles. It takes more time for a company to formulate a mineral sunscreen to have the same esthetics without micronized particles. In reality, the companies using nano-material are harming the environment with these ingredients. These micronized mineral ingredients are also hazardous to coral reefs. The only UV filters that are safe and effective for humans, safe for our eco-system and marine life, including coral reefs are non-nano zinc-oxide and non-nano titanium dioxide.

The announcement said the science showed the chemicals "deteriorate coral reefs, destroy coral larvae, obstruct their reproductive system and cause coral reef bleaching".

Serious impacts like stagnant growth, tissue accumulation, DNA damage are noticed in the reefs due to sunscreen. It also causes deformities and growth anomalies and disrupts a coral’s hormonal processes for growth and reproduction.

Thailand follows the Pacific Island of Palau and the US state of Hawaii which have already imposed similar bans. Violators face a fine of up to 100,000 Thai baht ($3,000).

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