Coral Before People: Hawaii Bans Popular Sunscreen Products

Sunburn

Sunburn. By Kelly Sue DeConnick from Kansas City, MO, USA (Sunburn) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

Tourists beware – green zealots in the Hawaii legislature have just passed a bill which bans safe, effective sunscreen products. From January 2021, sunscreen products which contain potent ultraviolet blockers oxybenzone and octinoxate will be illegal, if Governor David Ige signs this bill into law.

Most sunscreens may soon be banned in Hawaii, because coral reefs are dying

USA TODAY NETWORK

Ashley May, USA TODAY Published 3:37 p.m. ET May 2, 2018

The bill, introduced by Democratic Sen. Mike Gabbard, would prohibit the sale and distribution of sunscreen with those chemicals on the island “without prescription from a licensed healthcare provider.”

“Amazingly, this is a first-in-the-world law,” Gabbard, who introduced the bill, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “When you think about it, our island paradise, surrounded by coral reefs, is the perfect place to set the gold standard for the world to follow. This will make a huge difference in protecting our coral reefs, marine life, and human health.”

The bill would go into effect January 1, 2021 if signed by Democratic Gov. David Ige.

Critics of the bill question studies linking the chemicals to coral reef decay and say banning sunscreen could discourage people from wearing skin protection altogether, increasing skin cancer cases. Alexandra Kowcz, chief scientist with the Personal Care Products Council, said the bill rests on a “limited body of scientific research.” Henry Lim, immediate past-president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association, told USA TODAY a sunscreen ban could “create significant confusion” about why wearing sunscreen is important. Plus, there aren’t many effective sunscreen options on the market without these chemicals, he said.

Read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/05/02/hawaii-ban-sunscreen-kills-coral-reefs-environmentally-safe/572938002/

The full text of the bill is available here.

According to the Wikipedia entry on octinoxate, both chemicals are commonly mixed with Titanium Oxide to produce an effective sunscreen.

… Often used as an active ingredient in sunscreens combined with oxybenzone and titanium oxide for its use in protection against UV-B rays. …

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Octyl_methoxycinnamate

This bill in my opinion reeks of Silent Spring style activism. Thanks to questionable research presented in the book “Silent Spring”, and an over enthusiastic response from lawmakers, poor people across the world have been deprived of a safe, effective defence against mosquito borne diseases.

Since DDT was restricted worldwide, millions of people have died of Malaria who would otherwise have had an opportunity to live a healthy life.

The new Hawaiian Sunscreen law in my opinion was passed by green zealots exhibiting a comparable disregard for human health. Thanks to the sunscreen bill, tourists visiting Hawaii who conscientiously heed health warnings about skin cancer may now be at greater risk.

There may be acceptable substitutes for the restricted chemicals – but if the substitutes are better at protecting skin than the chemicals named in this new law, why haven’t they already supplanted the now restricted chemicals? How many people will now risk their health by choosing not to apply sunscreen, or be forced to choose an inferior product? How long will it be until those same green legislators attack the use of substitutes for the banned chemicals?

In 2012, 55,000 people died of skin cancer. While many skin cancers are successfully treated, some skin cancers are insidious and aggressive. Sometimes people don’t realise they are ill until it is too late.

Any rise in this cancer death toll due to misguided Hawaiian efforts to prioritise coral health ahead of human health would be an utter tragedy.

Let us hope Governor Ige has the courage and good sense not to sign this bill into law.

Correction (EW): The 55,000 death toll in 2012 is worldwide, not USA only.

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197 thoughts on “Coral Before People: Hawaii Bans Popular Sunscreen Products

  1. Does anyone know if there is ANY valid, serious science – think of peer reviewed, published papers – behind the claim that these chemicals can, or will, ever actually cause ANY harm to existing coral? If so, precisely how much harm and at what cost in human damage (sunburn, increased skin cancers, etc)?

    • These days scientists rarely do serious science so I would say it would be very unlikely. A few lab studies that may of may not have any relevance in the real world is the best you could find. Only agronomists tned to do rigorous statistically valid science nowadays simply because it is way too expensive to take the required numbers of random replicated samples from a uncontrolled environment.
      The short answer is to run field data past a standard sample size estimator and see how many samples are required to make 95% or 99% estimates of the standard deviation.
      https://surveysystem.com/sscalc.htm

    • As a very pale person, I sincerely hope that this does not lead to sunscreens that are less effective and/or more expensive. That is usually what happens with these kinds of bans.
      I was under the impression that chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone were absorbed into the skin. I would be interested to know how many studies have coated subjects with sunscreen, tossed them in a pool, and measured the actual “emission” of sunscreen chemicals. This stuff is supposed to be water resistant.
      Just wait. Titanium and zinc oxides are next. The nanoparticles!!!

      • I think NOAH (albinism.org) should react on this. White skins matter.
        And yes, red-haired albinism is the most prone to UV damage. Xeroderma pigmentosum is from a different planet.

      • I don’t know about the ocean but the stuff floats around on the surface of our pool and has to cleaned off with some seriously strong cleansers.

      • Interesting. If it (i.e. the sunscreen) floats and the targeted chemicals don’t dissolve into the water then it shouldn’t affect the coral. If it does dissolve out then it might. I thought there was some kind of study done in Australia a couple of years ago but I can’t find it.

      • Just do what most people flying into Hawaii do. Buy your sunscreen where you live, before you go there. This is just politician grandstanding/phony virtue-signalling to get votes. They must have run out of places to put new traffic lights.

    • dunno but i wonder what ongoing lava flows into oceans round hawaii does to corals?
      lets send some of the “researchers” out now seeing as theres a good chance to experience real life events as i write:-)
      and zinc creams ugly tacky and works and doesnt wash off in the sea

      • Good point! I’m sure the brilliant local politicians are already working on a law banning any new volcanic eruptions.
        If it saves just one polyp, it’s worth it.

    • Yeah, where are the “secret science” studies, tests and papers’ data?
      How many part per million molecules of water is required to cause coral problems?
      We need some clinical trials involving people with sunsceen gobbed on and swimming around a reef and a the same number of “unscreened” people swimming around the “control” reef. Then, with the grant money flowing in conduct more tests to determine if there’s a safe limit on number of people swimming about the reef. That way we could simply limit the number of people near the reef or even at Waikiki Beach, huh? Better yet, limit the number of tourists.
      Gums ponders…

      • Thanks for the data. I’ve been curious about the issue since the two minute sniff test rules out “global warming”. I’m fascinated by the pristine reefs in Cuba. Something is damaging the reefs.
        As for me, I usually avoid sunscreen. Loading up my body’s biggest organ with a cocktail of chemicals seem like a dubious idea. I try to get modest doses of sun but use clothing as protection against too much. Only when over-esposure is likely do I reach for the sunscreen.

      • I grew up as a haole on a sugar plantation on a remote part of the Big Island. Holy crap, people have NO IDEA how violently racist locals can be. I thought it was completely normal to be physically and verbally attacked every day. When I moved to California as a teen it was a shock to discover that that was not normal. Now when I hear people talk about non-existent racism and micro-aggressions, I just want to slap them. Hard.

      • And yet, despite being a childhood victim of vicious, violent racism, you seem to have developed a sense of humor and enjoy a lack of hatred.
        Good on ya, mayt!

      • ‘Holy crap, people have NO IDEA how violently racist locals can be. ‘
        Use the definition of racism from the newly late African-American pseudo scientist Francis Welsing and you see how, with a short strike of a pen, your experience of persecution stops being racism. I congratulate on, you Americans, the amount of double standard you have surrounding the concept of racism. It’s not only like rednecks and redheads who face persecution, it’s a freaking fight on whose experience matters and when.

      • Max Photon
        It seems that as a fat, bald, ageing, white, heterosexual, middle class male, any objection of mine to overt racism and/or bigotry falls on deaf ears. The fact I’m a Kilt wearing (not every day) Jock as well just makes casual derogatory remarks all the more acceptable to people.
        My only redeeming feature, it seems, is that I’m not ginger, other than that, it’s a full house.

      • Max, I made the mistake of walking into a “locals” supermarket on Kauai during one trip. I was lucky to get my wife and I out of there alive. Yea, the natives don’t appreciate anyone but their own kind on the islands … but leave your $$ !!!
        This will soon be reversed when the tourist dollar is spent elsewhere.

    • Well, gingers are not known for having a pacifist approach, and a spot of percussive therapy might do the Greens a power of good.

  2. What are we protecting, humans or fish or coral? sounds like a bunch of carp to me

  3. Sunscreen does hurt corals, but not as much as the many mass and minor extinction events which they’ve survived during the past 500 million years.
    The Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) was about six degrees C hotter than now. for instance, and it was paradise for reef-building corals.

    • What’s your research? Blanket mouth diarrhea discharges not allowed here.

      • when someone answers with a comment like that I suggest that they do the research. You obviously have a computer.

    • Bigfoot,
      It would take you just seconds to find out all you need to know about the PETM. I’ve posted links to that effect elsewhere.
      But since you’re either lazy or disabled, please note that the relevant citation occurs in the very first paragraph of the Wiki entry on the PETM:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleocene%E2%80%93Eocene_Thermal_Maximum
      As for the effects of some sunscreens on corals, links abound in this comment thread, some more persuasive than others.

    • And the Wiki article says eight degrees C, rather than the six I stated.
      It does however lack a citation. But looking at the graph presented next to the sentence confirms that amount of heat.

  4. Hawaii should ban tourism.
    Tourism is the number one reason for energy use (got to fly – too far to walk – from the cold place to the warm place, think of all those hotels that were/are constructed, cruise ships, and so on) which translate into the number one use of primordial carbon.
    Banning tourism would also stop the use of the pesky sunscreen.
    Oh for those IPCC types. One of the largest IPCC calculate ‘loss’ for global warming is less tourism. The IPCC though is that is the cold places get warm, then they won’t want to go to the warm places.

  5. If the lawmakers are knowingly causing death through skin cancer it should be possible to hold them to account for it. In my view such actions are skirting with murder. The full implications should be considered before any laws are changed or implemented.

  6. Haha, another rube falls for the myth about DDT. Never banned for use on insect disease vectors anyplace in the world where it was needed and certainly not even in the USA. The real reason DDT use declined was the universal evolution of DDT resistance in populations with long term exposure to DDT. This myth is easily debunked and DDT continues to be used all over the world if it works, which is rare.
    It’s hard to understand how so many people who realize that antibiotic resistance has evolved in numerous bacteria (like MRSA) but fail to understand the same process universally occurs in insect disease vectors.

    • Where can I buy some DDT, BioBob? I’m serious, I want to buy some. I promise that I’ll use it responsibly. (I live in North Carolina.)

      • +97.
        I’ve got a real use for DDT if it were available, a moderately nasty mosquito borne disease called Ross River Fever is endemic in my area. I’d happily spray a few strategic areas around my house to reduce the risk.

      • Apply for a permit from the EPA like normal Public Health Services do. You won’t have much luck since DDT, like other regulated chemicals is available by permit only. Permit have been repeatedly given to local PHS to control Bubonic Plague outbreaks. If you were going to produce DDT for export, you would also get a permit according to the original withdrawal of permits for use on crops.
        Read it and weep: https://archive.epa.gov/epa/aboutepa/ddt-ban-takes-effect.html
        ” Public health, quarantine, and a few minor crop uses were excepted, as well as export of the material”
        Public health, quarantine = insect vector control

      • Apply for a permit, like everybody else does. Numerous PHS dept have gotten them to control plague in western US

      • Eric, agree.
        Ross River doesn’t kill you it just makes you feel like you’ve got rigor-mortis. It knocked me out of action for 6 weeks, then 4 months to recover. Badly affected my business. I got it on a mountain top in thick rainforest. I drove there so I know that’s where I got bitten by multiple mozzies about three days earlier. It’s far more widely distributed in Australia than people realise so not much chance of eliminating it.

    • https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/ddt-brief-history-and-status
      “(T)he Stockholm Convention on POPs (persistent organic pollutants),,,includes a limited exemption for the use of DDT to control mosquitoes that transmit the microbe that causes malaria – a disease that still kills millions of people worldwide.”
      “In September 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared its support for the indoor use of DDT in African countries where malaria remains a major health problem, citing that benefits of the pesticide outweigh the health and environmental risks. The WHO position is consistent with the Stockholm Convention on POPs, which bans DDT for all uses except for malaria control.”
      However, it’s still banned for use against the vectors of typhus, yellow fever and other diseases spread by arthropods. And its general use against malaria mosquitoes is strictly curtailed.

    • BioBob, you are so wrong. Ruckelshaus, the first administrator of the EPA pointedly banned DDT unilaterally after two weeks of hearings had cleared DDT—he attended none of the hearings. He refused to explain his reasoning, but he purposely gave the environmentalists a huge win and a boost in power. Then, the rest of the world followed suit.

      • Years later, Ruckelshaus would explain his decision. He freely acknowledged that the science did not support the ban, as was demonstrated at the hearings held prior to the ban decision.
        He went on to explain that the motivation for the ban was, in fact, political.
        Ultimately, this was a precedent setting decision, which set EPA on a new path. From that point forward, regulatory decisions could be made on a scientific basis or a political basis.

    • BioBob – That isn’t quite my understanding. Token banning of DDT in the US other 1st world countries (not until 1988 in Australia if memory serves) was made easier by the sporadic (not universal) rise of DDT resistance (due mostly to panacea-like over use: I remember how my grandad used to dump it on every pest) and the usual crony capitalism interaction of government and industry (DDT was too cheap and lots of less effective but more expensive chemical controls were available but not moving on the market). DDT, though, really is too broad spectrum and provokes cross-resistance in other pesticides (one reason for the resurgence of bedbugs). It is true, though, that DDT has always been ‘available’ in areas where it was needed – but that doesn’t mean it was used effectively even when the Chinese and Indians made it available in bulk and cheap. Spraying a marsh with DDT in hopes of reducing malaria vectors will lead to resistance in Anopheles as well as any other arthropods that are so lucky. Spraying the walls and ceilings of homes just lead to Anopheles that landed near the floor or avoided a house altogether (not a bad outcome, but not enough to stop malaria). Too true, though, that too many people have drunk the DDT koolaid.

      • “Spraying the walls and ceilings of homes just lead to Anopheles that landed near the floor or avoided a house altogether ”
        That is actually quite good enough since malaria infection happens almost exclusively indoor and at night.

      • tty – you are correct to a degree: Anopheles avoiding houses sprayed with DDT is considered helpful in malaria control when most infections occur indoors at night, but this isn’t all Anopheles (some, for example, are crepuscular biters) and where DDT has been used longterm for control of indoor Anopheles, e.g. India, most infections are now occurring outdoors (night workers, outdoor sleeping in hot weather, partying, etc) especially in urban areas. This is an interesting overview paper of the Indian experience with DDT for vector control (they also use DDT for leishmaniasis, plague, etc.):
        https://web.archive.org/web/20050518063647/http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/dec102003/1532.pdf

    • Another sophist faker making nonsense comments:

      “The general use of the pesticide DDT will no longer be legal in the United States after today, ending nearly three decades of application during which time the once-popular chemical was used to control insect pests on crop and forest lands, around homes and gardens, and for industrial and commercial purposes.
      An end to the continued domestic usage of the pesticide was decreed on June 14, 1972, when William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, issued an order finally cancelling nearly all remaining Federal registrations of DDT products. Public health, quarantine, and a few minor crop uses were excepted, as well as export of the material.”

      ‘DDT Ban Takes Effect
      [EPA press release – December 31, 1972]”

    • biobob; Another sophist faker making nonsense fake internet rumors:

      DDT Ban Takes Effect
      [EPA press release – December 31, 1972]
      The general use of the pesticide DDT will no longer be legal in the United States after today, ending nearly three decades of application during which time the once-popular chemical was used to control insect pests on crop and forest lands, around homes and gardens, and for industrial and commercial purposes.
      An end to the continued domestic usage of the pesticide was decreed on June 14, 1972, when William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, issued an order finally cancelling nearly all remaining Federal registrations of DDT products. ”

      • “William D. Ruckelshaus, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, issued an order finally cancelling nearly all remaining Federal registrations of DDT products” – your quote ATheoK and ‘nearly all’ does not mean all.
        You do know that this 1972 ban was just the USA – where malaria had been controlled long ago. True other countries followed over the next several decades, but most kept an exception for a resurgence of malaria and most were 1st world countries that had no malaria problem at the time of banning – and still don’t, ‘airport malaria’ outbreaks excepted. My understanding was that DDT was never used extensively in SubSaharan Africa – totally impractical in the jungle and with the general lack of public health infrastructure – so DDT never had much effect on malaria there. Places like India (they make their own) have continuously and extensively used DDT since after WWII and never banned it, but are still having problems with malaria resurgence for many reasons including that DDT is not very effective in many situations. Try reading the Wiki entry for DDT – it is surprisingly informative and balanced, or at least it was this morning. DDT is no more a magic solution for malaria than CO2 is the magic control knob of climate.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DDT

      • Wiki is about as unreliable a source as one can find.

        “DaveW May 4, 2018 at 6:32 pm
        “William D. Ruckelshaus…”

        You make a false claim because of a word in the description; while ignoring the title and actual impact.
        “DDT Ban Takes Effect”.
        That almost, is an admission that the EPA did not, control the entire Federal Government.
        Still, the DDT ban was pursued throughout all Federal Agencies, Departments and Military Branches within a very short time.
        Banned!
        By Ruckelshaus, based on opinions and hearsay.
        Which brings one back to the proof many other commenters have mentioned. Find DDT on the shelf or for sale.

    • DDT is produced in India and China.
      It is used in India and Africa. Maybe also in other countries.
      Quite simply they learned from the abuse in the past and how to use it properly.
      Not a single human died from DDT or had any long term effect from DDT!

    • BioBob:

      Haha, another rube falls for the myth about DDT. Never banned for use on insect disease vectors anyplace in the world where it was needed and certainly not even in the USA. The real reason DDT use declined was the universal evolution of DDT resistance in populations with long term exposure to DDT. This myth is easily debunked and DDT continues to be used all over the world if it works, which is rare.
      It’s hard to understand how so many people who realize that antibiotic resistance has evolved in numerous bacteria (like MRSA) but fail to understand the same process universally occurs in insect disease vectors.

      So…DDT was banned because it was ineffective?
      (If it didn’t still work, the market would have taken care of phasing it out.)
      If DDT wasn’t banned, then why can’t I buy it?
      Why can’t I choose to to buy it and waste my money on something that doesn’t still work?
      The only myths the rubes have fallen for about DDT are in “Silent Spring”.

  7. How exactly will this be enforced? Time to start smuggling sun screen into the beach for 5x profit, may get hard to find cocain since all the money is in spf

    • No doubt, TSA will check luggage for flights to Hawaii, and confiscate when found.
      TSA already confiscates suntan lotion from carry-on bags.

      • TSA will confiscate any liquid container over 3.4 ounces. They took away my Gold Bond foot lotion bottle of 4 ounces!

  8. Going to make a ‘huge’ difference. No. It. Won’t. Like all claims about global warming, it’s is immeasurable, unfounded and shameless posturing by those who should know better.

  9. I lived in Queensland Australia, Melanoma capital of the world when I was young, maybe still is (I have not checked.) Scary thing is while most skin cancers are in older people I lost a number of friends in their 20s to melanoma 30 years ago. I don’t want to sue the Hawaiian people through their government . After all why should they pay. But if there is an increase in the skin cancer rate in Hawaii and in Hawaiian visitors over the next few years, I would seriously like these idiots to be charged with criminal offences for putting lives at risk. A manslaughter conviction or two might make a few loons think twice about their ill informed stupid acts. And reefs around the world, including the Great Barrier Reef generally seem to be doing pretty well except where there is significant land pollution, mostly in developing nations. And even they understand the benefit of tourism so places like the Maldives actually have pretty health reefs too.

    • The thought of government being held accountable for deaths resetting from policy decisions is cute. Pure fantasy, but cute.

  10. How would they even enforce this ban?
    I mean, they can restrict what the local stores sell, but they cannot restrict what people bring in their luggage, and the majority of their beach visitors are tourists. And I doubt police walking along the boardwalk will be able to tell whether a sunscreen brand is illegal or not – given just how many hundreds of varieties there are and how similar many of the bottles look.
    It comes across as more of a feel-good law that will have little actual impact.

    • How could you even restrict sales in Hawaii? Many, many people use it without ever gonna g to the beach. You can’t simply ban sales because people working in the hot sun need to have access to it.

      • In socialism, the ban comes first. Then come fines. In the end, the fines are institutional, so hotel owners are at risk of being coerced to follow and educate their customers.

    • TSA automatically will confiscate any liquid container above 3.4 ounces. Don’t try it.

      • Only on carry on, check baggage not problem, we flew to Texas last month has large bottles of lotion in check baggage no problems.

    • Our coral reefs are pretty hammered here in Hawai`i for many reasons . If a simple switch to a non Oxybenzone sunscreen can help sustain them , I am all for it . Let’s educate more tourists and locals about using other products and see if it helps . It’s a shame to watch our coral suffer .

  11. This bill in my opinion reeks of Silent Spring style activism. Thanks to questionable research presented in the book “Silent Spring”, and an over enthusiastic response from lawmakers, poor people across the world have been deprived of a safe, effective defence against mosquito borne diseases.
    Since DDT was restricted worldwide, millions of people have died of Malaria who would otherwise have had an opportunity to live a healthy life
    ,……………..
    Blimy mate
    DDT is not banned for malaria. And has never been.
    Overuse kills needed insects and eventually created resistant mosquitoes.
    There is plenty of documentation proving this.
    It is very sad to see such untruths still being stated

    • If DDT has never been banned, why did the UN revise it’s ban a few years ago? How is that even possible?
      I remember in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, expanding and maintaining the DDT bans worldwide was a major cause for all the environmental organizations.
      The environmental movement has the blood of 40 million on it’s hands, making them one of the largest mass murderers in history.
      What is the Left’s response to the cold, hard facts?
      “It never happened.”
      Absolutely disgusting!

    • Then produce the documentation.
      Ruckelshaus, newly formed EPA Administrator, banned DDT June 14th, 1972.
      Ruckelshaus did not ban DDT because of “insecticide resistance”.
      Ruckelshaus did not ban DDT for “overeffectiveness”.
      Ruckelshaus banned DDT because eco-alarmists were frothing over “Silent Spring”.
      Ghafrunt, is spreading untruths.

  12. Um, Eric, you’re embarrassing yourself. This is nothing like the DDT ban due to politicized science. Not all sunscreens contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. These are not essential ingredients and they aren’t what protect you from UV radiation. And they do actually kill coral. I’m surprised it’s taken this long for a state or country with coral reefs to get around to banning it.

    • Yes, there are many alternatives. These two compounds do absorb UV, however, are generally waterproof and are compatible with many different formulations. The law will be very difficult to enforce. But there is evidence that they are toxic to coral (although sewage and untreated runoff are bigger problems).
      Nevertheless, a ban is probably worth a try so long as there is monitoring in place that attempts to quantify effects. Run the experiment.

    • Nothing embarrassing at all! Eric is absolutely correct about oxybenzone & octinoxate. These 2 materials are indeed active sunscreens used to protect against UV-B, which is generally the sort that gives you sunburn.
      Maybe you should check the facts first! Banning useful chemicals on very limited evidence of environmental impact is a hallmark of the “green” movement since Rachel’s infamous book!

  13. You really need a law against sunscreens?
    Welcome, you are almost Germans, who have a law agains almost anything, except premature ejaculation.

  14. DDT has been maligned and the WHO has asked for it to be reintroduced. Another shoot, ready, aim from our “environmental friends” masquerading as Marxist useful idiots.

  15. So coral polyps are more important than human lives. I’m lost for words yet again.

  16. I snorkel on a restricted coral reef in New Caledonia. All that they ask there is that you don’t use sunscreen for the snorkel period.

      • Do you have citations, Felix ? Seawater is rich in iodine … think table salt … but it can also be toxic to corals.

  17. No idea if sunscreen actually damages coral. It is conceivable. Done a fair bit of snorkeling and scuba on Maui. Without sunscreen. I refuse to slime myself with the stuff. I swim with spf clothing cover.
    The corals have not been doing well. Seemingly covered with alga and silt. The alga seems likely NPK nutrient pollution from all that beautiful landscaping.

  18. I see a great black market opportunity developing:
    Super-fast cigarette boats landing sunscreen under cover of darkness – cops paid to look the other way, prosecutors, judges and politicians corrupted, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

    • Do it the way it has always been done.
      Pack the suntan lotion into big crates labeled with the ubiquitous “Farm Machinery” label.
      Customs inspectors will see the labels, and assume that it is a terrorist arms shipment and that somebody has been paid off. So they will allow the shipment through unhindered.

  19. One person sees an unfortunate government intrusion.
    I see economic opportunity.
    The sunscreen cartel will be a formidable force. Fast boats… low flying airplanes… coming in from the Solomons loaded to gills with SPF30 and 50 contraband.

  20. The crazy thing is that the Greens went after products like DDT but for years did nothing about asbestos in buildings or arsenic in ‘treated’ timber. If they’d got those products banned a long time ago the health hazards to anyone working in older buildings would have been greatly reduced.

  21. Hold hard here.. Isn’t this an admission that such products are a major source of damage to corals? So this supercedes the warm water meme as the major source of damage?
    Many people in this very blog have in the past cited studies showing sunscreens causes coral damage, rather than warm water.
    I guess the acid test is whether there are good alternatives to the chemicals being banned.
    tonyb

  22. Lots of important questions that do not seem to be being asked here. How good are the stats or is this another irreproducible result? Do the lab results apply to the real world? (I thought CO2-mediated global warmining was murdering the reefs.) Who funded this sunscreen study? (Was it competitors using different formulations? Or just another green misinformation campaign?) But really, shouldn’t the first question here be Cui bono?
    That said, the DDT-koolaid kids here are very disappointing. ‘DDT was banned and millions died’ is not consistent with the facts. Yes, DDT was banned in 1st world countries when and where it was no longer needed, but was always always available in most of the rest of the world (China and India helped with that), although not always easy to use without annoying aid programs. Unfortunately, the real reason malarial deaths increased in the latter half of the 20th Century is most likely that public health services fell apart after the fall of colonialism and the rise of Cold War. DDT is a very useful chemical in malaria control, but it is not a panacea and Anopheles mosquitoes have adapted to it. DDT and malaria is a complicated story, not a simplistic chant.

    • I’ve wanted to say this for a while but couldn’t find the right space.
      DDT kills all insects, not just mosquitoes. Those other insects include dragonflies, which feed on mosquitoes and are harmless to humans. DDT spraying is broadcast, not selective. I use a hornet spray to keep the wasps away from my house, but I’ve found it more effective in the long run to let carpenter bees have a place to nest and lay a few eggs, because they drive hornets and wasps away from their territory. They are extremely effective that way.
      There are pros and cons to DDT. Killing dragonflies, a beneficial insect, is one of the ‘cons’.

      • Hi Sara,
        I understand that DDT was over-used in developed-world agriculture and that specific part of the DDT ban probably made some sense.
        However, some of the scary scientific claims against DDT have reportedly never been reproduced.
        The ban in sub-Saharan Africa from 1972 to 2002 allowed a doubling of malaria deaths, most of whom were children under five years of age – just babies. I find this unacceptable, to put it mildly.
        The banning of DDT from 1972 to 2002 in the battle against malaria was a crime against humanity.
        After DDT was re-introduced circa year 2002, malaria deaths declined considerably. The battle against malaria continues.
        Regards, Allan
        https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1566107003466856&set=a.1012901982120697.1073741826.100002027142240&type=3&theater

      • … So long as you can tolerate the damage the carpenter bees can cause …They did a LOT of damage to a neighbors house and a fair bit to my old garage . I am allergic to wasp venom , but I still prefer wasps over c .bees .

      • No argument from me on the death rate, Allan, but the destruction of beneficial insects bothers me. It’s bad enough that honeybees are treated like M&Ms in a jar by the people who farm them out to commercial orchards. No wonder colony collapse is going on.
        it’s the lack of thinking of the consequences that bothers me. I use hornet/wasp spray and will never hesitate to do so, because they invade bee spaces. The overuse of something is part of the problem, as in the miracle drug penicillin, which has been so overused that diseases it killed are now resistant to it.
        In regard to the carpenter bees, I found that insect repellent let them know they weren’t welcome in certain places, but they were welcome in others, where I planted pots of flowers. They are damaging, yes, but there is a way to m manage that without hurting the bees. They are completely stingless, both male and female. The male has a white shield on his head that he employs when he head-butts wasps. And there are some plants they don’t like, too.

      • Sara, there are very few insecticides that kill only a single species or group, e.g., Bt, Bti, etc. Almost every pesticide can kill all other insects and arthropods. Like with all poison it is all dose related, that is quantity of poison versus size of the organism. Fenthion (Baytex) an organophosphate designed for resistance mosquitoes kills mosquitoes are a very tiny rate, less than parts per trillion. It also can kill pink shrimp in the laboratory at 7 ppt. The problem with DDT, just like the problems with penicillin, was we didn’t understand that insects and bacteria could develop resistance. We didn’t understand why it was taking more and more DDT to have the same effect. We didn’t understand that using it as a larvicide, pupacide and an adulticide drove resistance extremely fast. It is true some pesticides are more effective on one species than another. Again the response is dose related. Having had dinner with those that were high officials in the companies manufacturing DDT at the time it was banned, the reasons DDT was banned had little to do with good science and a whole lot to do with pure modern environmental politics. Basically since it was losing its effectiveness they saw little problem allowing it to be banned. They believed in feeding the crocodiles. Somehow they believed for public relations if they did not fight the ban or even agreed to the ban the environmentalists and bureaucrats would be satisfied and go away. They saw modern pesticides as “miracle chemicals” that were going to help feed the world’s exploding population. They believed no one could be against that for long.

  23. Christ, now WUWT is into complaining about the regulation of harmful chemicals, just because the people that proposed it happen to be political opponents. This place has gone down the drain so fast. There are plenty of alternatives. The only thing being harmed here are corporate profits.

    • That’s a lot of wrongness to cram into one short paragraph.
      – “regulation of harmful chemicals”: a classic of question-begging.
      – “because the people … happen to be political opponents”: any evidence for this claim, is there?
      – “there are plenty of alternatives”: those all offer the same utility for the same price, do they?
      – “the only thing being harmed here are corporate profits”: on the contrary, those being harmed here are consumers, who will either pay more for sun protection or go without – which could (and, in my opinion, should) be construed as a political attack on the fair-skinned.

      • benben, fair skinned is not the same as white.
        Once again you have demonstrated your ignorance and bigotry.

    • Any chance you could actually show us some solid evidence that these compounds are actually harmful to corals?

    • let me just copy/paste the abstract from one of the papers referenced to (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7)
      Benzophenone-3 (BP-3; oxybenzone) is an ingredient in sunscreen lotions and personal-care products that protects against the damaging effects of ultraviolet light. Oxybenzone is an emerging contaminant of concern in marine environments—produced by swimmers and municipal, residential, and boat/ship wastewater discharges. We examined the effects of oxybenzone on the larval form (planula) of the coral Stylophora pistillata, as well as its toxicity in vitro to coral cells from this and six other coral species. Oxybenzone is a photo-toxicant; adverse effects are exacerbated in the light. Whether in darkness or light, oxybenzone transformed planulae from a motile state to a deformed, sessile condition. Planulae exhibited an increasing rate of coral bleaching in response to increasing concentrations of oxybenzone. Oxybenzone is a genotoxicant to corals, exhibiting a positive relationship between DNA-AP lesions and increasing oxybenzone concentrations. Oxybenzone is a skeletal endocrine disruptor; it induced ossification of the planula, encasing the entire planula in its own skeleton. The LC50 of planulae exposed to oxybenzone in the light for an 8- and 24-h exposure was 3.1 mg/L and 139 µg/L, respectively. The LC50s for oxybenzone in darkness for the same time points were 16.8 mg/L and 779 µg/L. Deformity EC20 levels (24 h) of planulae exposed to oxybenzone were 6.5 µg/L in the light and 10 µg/L in darkness. Coral cell LC50s (4 h, in the light) for 7 different coral species ranges from 8 to 340 µg/L, whereas LC20s (4 h, in the light) for the same species ranges from 0.062 to 8 µg/L. Coral reef contamination of oxybenzone in the U.S. Virgin Islands ranged from 75 µg/L to 1.4 mg/L, whereas Hawaiian sites were contaminated between 0.8 and 19.2 µg/L. Oxybenzone poses a hazard to coral reef conservation

      • “Whether in darkness or light, oxybenzone transformed planulae from a motile state to a deformed, sessile condition.”
        Yes, yes, I know – I feel that way every morning, before coffee. It’s even worse if I go drinking the night before. Breathing oxygen helps. Maybe we should oxygenate the reefs – that’ll make the little buggers happy!

      • Holy cow. The amount of oxybenzone in Hawaiian sites is in MICROGRAMS/LITER!!! Just forget it.
        What else is there?

    • 1) Do you have evidence that they are harmful.
      2) Do you have any evidence that the corporations won’t make just as much profit off the new chemicals?
      3) Why do you go out of your way to display your ignorance and bigotry?

      • Hello MarkW, I provided a reference and copy/lasted an abstract above. Enjoy reading it.

      • Hehe ok MarkW.l, that have a me chuckle. I guess we’ll just have to ignore your comments from now on. Have a good day!

    • “This place has gone down the drain so fast. There are plenty of alternatives.”
      Such as Hot Whopper. Perhaps you meant alternative sunscreen products.
      Thank you for posting detail of the function of these chemicals on coral.
      “The only thing being harmed here are corporate profits.”
      It is unlikely that WUWT is harming corporate profits. Perhaps you meant that Hawaii’s ban on these chemicals will harm the corporate profits of whoever makes those chemicals. While that would be indisputably true, it is offset by the increase in market share of titanium oxide, which you can use as white paint when not using it as sunscreen.

  24. No sunscreen great more vit D. Btw when first discovered by Europeans local people were using coconut oil.

  25. NW sage started the thread off on the right note when he asked if there is any evidence.
    So far no takers.
    Plan A:
    1) Demonstrate and measure the ingredients in suntan lotion in the water column *at the reefs*.
    2) Demonstrate toxicity on coral *at the concentrations measured*.
    Take into account the 24 hour cycle and annual high season/low season cycles.
    That is to say if you find a peak value just after a boatload of tourists shows up then project that value 24/7/365 to show possible harm, you are guilty of professional misconduct.
    Plan B)
    Do a detailed survey of reefs with heavy tourist traffic.
    1) Barbados and the local “Swim With The Sea Turtles” daily tourist excursions. A very small, localized area gets perhaps a dozen boats daily.
    2) Grand Cayman Is. and The Coral Gardens. A broad shallow area with limited water exchange with the open ocean. Also heavily trafficked.
    If you spot reef degradation, show that it is due to suntan lotion and not to something else, like perhaps engine exhaust from all those tourist boats.
    The situation is nothing new. These reefs have been on the tourist circuit for decades. If suntan lotion is anything like as bad as the ban proponents claim, these popular reefs should all be dead by now.
    gymnosperm writes:

    The corals have not been doing well. Seemingly covered with alga and silt. The alga seems likely NPK nutrient pollution from all that beautiful landscaping.

    So the coral reefs are getting hammered by silting and nutrient runoff. Both are well known to be very harmful to reefs. So what do they do?
    Ignore the real problem and ban suntan lotion!
    Sounds just about right.

    • Yes, and one of the other major factors in reef decline is overfishing. Pollution and overfishing are the two major world-wide causes of reef decline, with overfishing probably the greatest threat. See for example here:
      https://www.icriforum.org/caribbeanreport “The report also shows that loss of parrotfishes and other grazers has been far more important than climate change for Caribbean reef destruction so far.” Most marine biologists, I think, would agree that overfishing is a great and imminent threat to reefs, although they usually add something about climate change in accordance with groupthink programming.
      http://www.soc.hawaii.edu/mora/Publications/Mora%20053.pdf
      Healthy fish populations make for healthy reefs (“bright spots”):
      “A key finding from our global analysis is that our metric of potential interactions with urban centres, called market gravity … more so than local or national population pressure, management, environmental conditions, or national socioeconomic context, had the strongest relationship with reef fish biomass. Specifically, we found that reef fish biomass decreased as the size and accessibility of markets increased.”

  26. And what have here if not yet another Panic Response to a (possibly) trivial, ill considered, poorly researched and in all probability, imagined problem.
    An ill conceived, barely even actually thought about or researched knee jerk reaction.
    Precautionary Principle on speed.
    Not like that’s ever happened before..
    Not like:
    Global Cooling
    Ozone and CFCs
    Mad Cows
    Diesel
    Millennium bugs
    Ebola
    Avian influenza
    and now the Hell Child of those illustrious parents: Global Warming.
    So what gives?
    Why all the panic responses?
    What *is* panic?
    Do we say its the/a/any situation where someone/anyone is confronted by ‘a new situation’
    Classically of course, the sighting of a Sabre Tooth Tiger (STT) eyeing you up from behind a nearby shrub.
    If a rapid and safe exit cannot quickly be evaluated then all the hormones fire, insulin, adrenaline, cortisol etc. Chances are there will be screaming and shouting and rushing/racing off in a wrong direction – perfectly alerting the STT that you are any easy target and ripe for the picking.
    Great for the tiger, not so much you.
    IOW: Panic endangers our own existence – classically we say that ‘The turkeys are voting for Christmas’
    Now.
    We obviously evolved to evade the excess attentions of STTs so we must, somewhere between our ears, have an organ that can respond quickly & appropriately to new & rapidly changing situations.
    We do have within us the ability to quickly formulate measured words, deeds and actions and hence not descend into inappropriate panic responses.
    Question: Where is that ability now?
    If anybody has ever read a word I’ve said on here they’ll know where I think its gone.
    Eroded by carbohydrate food, refined sugar and alcohol and then flushed away down the pan.
    They are all chemical depressants. They switch off large parts of the human brain, possibly the brain trying to protect itself. They bring on paranoia after long term use (abuse)
    It’s not easy to tell though is it?
    Not when *everyone* is as equally paranoid as you yourself might be
    Check out a guy called (Dr) Mark Hyman – he has words for what inappropriate diet does to people – he calls it the ‘Broken Brain’
    Consider that the continued piss-take of Ehrlich (50 years and counting) might just represent the fact that you and many people are, in fact, genuinely and deeply worried about something.
    Take it as given that, the human animal can not pass off untruths without giving itself away somehow, even ‘L1es by omission’ or AKA secrets.
    The worst person for keeping a secret is the person whose secret it is..
    (Some wise old sage said that, I ani’t that brihgt)

  27. Applying sunscreen to coral is a bad idea. Wait . . . what . . . you are going to put it on people?

  28. Never been to Hawaii, nor wanted to go there. Even less desire now.
    However, I have many friends in the Navy who have been stationed there, or will be. I will post a link to this elsewhere, and see how much they howl about it.
    It seems as though hastily created, poorly though out legislation like this is rammed right through a law body as quickly as possible, sometimes in “secret” (no published notice) for the sole purpose of the creators having their way. The best example of that is the ACA Act, written and passed behind locked doors, because ‘we have to pass it so that we know what’s in it’. And what a disaster that has been.

    • I spent 12 years there and while I don’t particularly like government controls I am sympathetic to this one. Hawaii has many examples of unwanted side effects of invasive species, this is an invasive chemical. I seldom used sunscreen; got severely sunburned just once. After that I simply regulated how much time I spent in sunshine. I’m a SCUBA diver (PADI certified) and appreciate Hawaii’s glorious reefs. There was sometimes a bit of an oily sheen on the water at Hanauma bay, a popular tourist spot with limited ability to flush out the bay over the reef. Also limited ability to flush out the tourists into the rapid ocean current called the “Diamond Head Express” — very bad to find yourself in it trying to swim to some place you can haul out.

  29. I agree with this IMPORTANT NEW report from the GWPF.
    The Greens are the great killers of our age, rivaling Mao, Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot, the great killers of the 20th Century.
    One example of this criminal Green malfeasance is the banning of DDT from 1972 to 2002, which greatly increased deaths from malaria in the tropics, especially among children under 5 – a global-scale holocaust based on false environmental alarmism.
    A more recent example is global warming hysteria and the war against cheap, reliable, abundant energy, which is the lifeblood of society.
    I wrote the following in 2015:
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2015/04/29/remember-the-poor-a-visual-epistle-to-the-pope/#comment-1924594
    [excerpt]
    Nevertheless, Lomborg is correct in his conclusion – that we need to fight poverty and energy starvation in Africa through the use of sensible energy solutions including fossil fuels – this is a much higher priority than green energy schemes, which are not green and provide little useful energy.
    Regards, Allan
    _________________________________________________
    The GWPF
    Press Release 04/05/18
    New Report:
    GREEN POLICIES THREATEN POOR NATIONS
    Efforts to decarbonise will kill millions in poor countries
    London 4 May 2018. A new report from the Global Warming Policy Foundation finds that climate and green energy policies promoted by development organisations will cause millions of preventable deaths in the developing world.
    The report, by eminent epidemiologist Mikko Paunio, says that international bodies and NGOs are trying to prevent poor countries from expanding their use of conventional fuels and have abandoned the so-called “energy ladder” — the gradual shift to cleaner types of fuel that underpinned the clean up of air quality in industrialised nations.
    As Dr Paunio explains, this will have devastating consequences:
    “Indoor air pollution from domestic fires kills millions every year. But instead of helping poor people to climb the energy ladder and clean the air in their communities, the poorest people are being given gimmicks like cookstoves, which make little difference to air quality, and solar panels, which are little more than a joke.”
    What is worse, the greens inside and outside the development community are blaming air pollution on power stations, industry and cars, as a way to prevent any shift to industrial power production. As Dr Paunio makes clear, most air pollution in poor countries is in fact caused by burning low-quality biofuels and coal in domestic stoves:
    “Trying to blame power stations for indoor air pollution might make greens feel they are saving the planet, but the reality is that they are allowing millions of deaths from air pollution to continue. The body count is going to rival that of the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century.”
    200 Million At Risk
    Domestic combustion of solid (bio)fuels is by far the number one global pollution problem. 4.3 million deaths annually are directly attributable to indoor air pollution (IAP) according to the World Health Organization.
    Domestic combustion of solid biofuels kills almost six million people per year when its effects on ambient air quality are also taken into consideration.
    The so called ‘energy ladder’ was introduced as a way of understanding how deaths from IAP might be prevented. The energy ladder seeks to reproduce the experience of rich countries, where households moved away from biofuels and were increasingly connected to electric grids or district heating systems, solving the IAP problem for good.
    However, ever-growing resistance from the environmental movement has removed this beneficial approach from the development agenda. Environmentalists fear that by taking steps upwards on the energy ladder, from dirty solid fuels such as cow dung or crop residues, and towards use of electricity, poor countries would become wealthier and so increase their energy use and their carbon intensity. They have managed to persuade all important multilateral development bodies and the WHO to drop the energy ladder entirely. Instead, they are now coercing the poorest countries to adopt utopian energy policies based on renewables. The result is that combatting IAP in, say, sub-Saharan Africa, is becoming impossible.
    Aggressive decarbonization is now high on the political agenda. Contrary to the widely disseminated claims of important global actors, this will not solve the problem of IAP. Moreover, it will hamper the expansion of electric grids, which is a critical prerequisite for delivering adequate water supplies, without which it will be impossible to reproduce the public health miracle experienced in the rich countries.
    These ‘ambitious’ global climate mitigation policies leave environmental health problems amongst the poor unaddressed and will result in the loss of over 200 million lives by 2050. They are also unlikely – even in theory – to prevent the 250,000 annual deaths that the WHO speculates will be attributable to climate change between 2030 and 2050: high-quality IPCC-linked research has recently shown that solid biomass combustion actually increases CO2 emissions, at least over the next 100 years, compared to fossil fuels.
    Full paper (pdf): Kicking Away The Energy Ladder: How environmentalism destroys hope for the poorest
    https://thegwpf.us4.list-manage.com/track/click?u=c920274f2a364603849bbb505&id=7456290eeb&e=da89067c4f

    • Yes, an excellent evaluation and analysis.
      Just a little problem. He graduated from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
      Try to find any faculty member there to support this view. Nobody will.

      • More BS from rd50 = WD40 – the slippery one.
        So rd50, you claim to know the opinions of every faculty member at Johns Hopkins? Really? Some of them MUST BE intelligent.
        And what about all Mikko’s other schools? Have you polled all the faculty there too?
        Don’t be so ridiculous. You are just a cheap-shot artist.
        from the Facebook page of Mikko Paunio
        Studied Lääketieteellinen tiedekunta at University of Helsinki
        Studied Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University
        Studied Biometria at Université Libre de Bruxelles
        Went to Normal Lyceum of Helsinki
        Lives in Helsinki

  30. Here are some studies on how sunscreen ingredients affect coral:
    Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2291018/
    Toxicological effects of the sunscreen UV filter, benzophenone-2, on planulae and in vitro cells of the coral, Stylophora pistillata
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10646-013-1161-y
    Toxicopathological Effects of the Sunscreen UV Filter, Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3), on Coral Planulae and Cultured Primary Cells and Its Environmental Contamination in Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00244-015-0227-7
    Ecotoxicological Evaluation of the UV Filters Ethylhexyl Dimethyl p-Aminobenzoic Acid and Octocrylene Using Marine Organisms Isochrysis galbana, Mytilus galloprovincialis and Paracentrotus lividus
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00244-017-0399-4
    Coral Bleaching [blames it primarily on warm ocean temps due to El Nino] – growing new coral and experimenting with different types
    http://gili-lankanfushi.com/mb-blog/coral-bleaching/
    Sunscreens – Biohazard: Treat as Hazardous Waste [anti-sunscreen rant that provides alternatives]
    http://www.blogtok.com/index.php?tipo=blog&accao=ler&id=26365

  31. Banning tourism would do much more to save Hawaii from environmental degradation and set the “gold standard”. Your move, Hawaii.

  32. Follow the money. If sunscreen has to be provided by pharmaceutical agencies under prescription, there is a lot of money to be made here.

    • Yes, that would certainly be a money maker for pharmacies – unless of course they are simply selling OTC sunscreens (rather than prescription grade products that have always required an Rx) that are being kept behind the counter and only given to those with an Rx. If that is the case (selling OTC sunscreens to people with an Rx) then this ban may not be nearly as effective as the powers that be might hope.
      Many, if not most doctors, might simply hand out sunscreen scripts like candy, sort of like the way opioid drugs have been prescribed in the last couple of decades. The patient asks – the patient gets. And tourists could just bring a doctor’s permission with them, along with their banned sunscreen of choice. Or if they forget, they could go to a walk-in clinic and get a script. Especially if that clinic is in a drug store…because of course they want to sell you the sunscreen. Because the epidemiology of skin cancer is well known, I doubt that any doc worth his or her salt would refuse a lighter skinned patient a script to buy sunscreen.
      So if people will be able to get around this ban that easily, then it may end up being much ado about nothing….

  33. I had a look at a couple of the papers making claims about the benzophenone sunscreens. They were like quite a lot of other worthless papers you run across in bio-medical sciences. The authors are clearly looking to demonstrate an effect of compound x so they simply raise the dose of x in a laboratory setting until they achieve some harm. Never mind that it is totally unphysiological concentration and would never happen in the real world unless you were dumping truckloads of it into the local environment, or that there are inadequate experimental controls, or that you could demonstrate something similar with water or vitamin C. A shoddy paper is still “a paper” that Greenfaece can wave in front of the lawmakers.
    These chemicals are chosen because they tend to quench photochemical reactions. While it is always possible they suddenly act in the opposite manner in coral reefs, it seems rather unlikely, and awfully convenient for people who just want to ban anything chemical.

    • Of course, there may also be one particular manufacturer who holds some patents on the next generation of, more expensive, sun-screen products that will be approved, and that manufacturer will then make out like bandits. We’ve seen that kind of thing before, haven’t we?

  34. Another hypothesis a la Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, conceived with an ulterior motive a la CFL, born in isolation, and extrapolated to the real world.

  35. Don’t mind the boiling lava pooring into the ocean or the oil and chemical spils from WWII and the odd eartkuake/Tsunami, just ban sun screen products to punish humanity. I wonder what tar and feathers will do for the corals when people finally wake up and provide their sociopatic establishment the treatment they deserve.

  36. Everything is about trade-offs and compromises. How much protection for coral vs. how much protection for people? If we’re comparing 100 people who will get a mild sunburn compared to the sure death of the coral reefs, then I’m in favor of the ban. If we talking about 5000 people who may die from skin cancer compared to junk science that will accomplish nothing with a ban, then I’m against it.
    The fact that there exists a trade-off tells you nothing about what may be an appropriate position, and this column doesn’t offer much that would help one evaluate the trade-off.

  37. I’m pretty sure (and have heard) that the more extreme so-called “environmentalists” would not look unkindly on the extermination of about 90% of humans.

  38. Here is a question, where do these chemicals in the water really originate? Swimmers on the beaches that actually enter the water? How about tourists that shower later and wash them down the drain (even those who never went to the beach)? I wonder where the grey water from the showers and the sunscreen chemicals in it end up? Perhaps in the ocean? Couldn’t the grey water be treated and have a win-win situation?

  39. Guess I could smuggle in a suitcase or two of sunscreen next trip I make to Hawaii. I’ll make enough money to pay for my trip selling tubes on Waikiki Beach.

  40. I think it’s fantastic that factors other than Global Warming are finally being considered to explain the decline in coral reef health! This sunscreen ban is quite possibly a good thing.
    The original abstract of the published paper is available at the link below:
    https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00244-015-0227-7
    The main mechanism is action is on coral planulae (free swimming planktonic baby coral polyps) and it seems it can also directly damage the DNA of coral by producing AP-sites on the DNA backbone (wondering if it does this in people as well???). The measured concentration of the chemical on actual reefs (Hawaii and US Virgin Islands) was above the LC-50 determined to be harmful.
    This makes me think of the Elkhorn and Staghorn corals of the Caribbean. Despite extensive efforts to propagate and replant both of these species on Caribbean reefs they have not yet made a comeback. Perhaps these sunscreen chemicals are affecting larval recruitment??? Just a thought.
    It’ll be interesting to see if Hawaii observes any improvements in the health of their reefs after this ban takes affect.

  41. Humans are pretty much second-fiddle to any other aspect of nature. Hawaii has had a fishing ban on tiger sharks for, oh, a couple decades-plus – and now there’re a lot of them and they’re really big. My boss took a vacation out there last summer, and I mentioned this little factoid to him before he went – partly to tease, because he mentioned going sail-boarding and snorkeling.
    First day he got there someone got hit by a tiger shark.

  42. Good. It is about time. What? Do you all think that coral die-off is from global warming? Get real. It is from the crappy sun screen. Put on a hat and a long sleeve shirt and sit in the shade. Ban that crappy sunscreen in the Caribbean too.

  43. Unless Hawaii has found some really special way of disposing of sewage and other domestic waste then banning sunscreens is not going to solve their problem. The elected officials are looking for a scapegoat but in this case this might be choking the golden goose. I love it when elected officials, whose almost sole industry is tourism do things to hamper tourism. Elected officials at all levels HATE having to deal with proper collection, treatment and disposal of domestic sewage and urban stormwater. There is no easy, inexpensive answer to the problem. Florida continues to fact that problem even though debated now for decades. Hawaii went from about 50 thousand residents in 1950 to 1.5 million last year. That is not counting 8.9 million tourist. A 100 gallons per resident and slightly more for tourist. I sat through a technical discussion of the problem just in and around Honolulu three decades ago.

  44. Just wear UV resistant swimwear. In other words, cover up.
    Nothing like a UV resistant Burkini, I say!

  45. Regarding Waikiki beach:
    I recall reading somewhere that Waikiki beach used to be a huge coral reef. One day the locals decided it was interfering with their surfing, so they bulldozed it.
    Does anyone have any information on this?

      • Glad you enjoyed the secret history of HI.
        In the mid-90s, my GF was an event planner in Honolulu, with resort clients on the other islands. I got to know the dark underbelly of the romanticized isles. From human sacrifice platforms on the Kona Coast to the rampaging environmental degradation by the Polynesians and subsequent human invaders, to include mass extinctions of native flora, fauna and for all I know fungus and microbes.
        Compared with what has gone before, sunscreen hardly registers on the environmental radar.

  46. Friends recently went to Fiji and stayed at a new, high-end place where everything had been bulldozed and dredged and an artificial reef built. After just three years, they said the brand new reef was amazing, teeming with fish and color.

  47. Excellent initiative on the part of the Hawaiian legislators and I believe the Australian legislators may be following suit. Keep up the good work guys!

  48. Hi all. I usually agree with articles posted here, but this one is OFF BASE.
    My wife has a marine biology background. She has been scuba diving since her early teens (in the early ’70’s she was the youngest girl to ever be SCUBA-certified in southern California…)
    The link between sunscreen and coral toxicity was demonstrated decades ago, as I recall first by the Japanese. The 2008 study (quoted several times in this thread) is the first I can recall that provided very solid evidence for exactly how sunscreen ingredients cause the problem, and just how sensitive coral (and other marine life) is to these chemicals.
    Think about the data benben quoted above from one of the studies. These ingredients have been shown to have an effect at levels as low as 0.062 µg/L! That’s 62 parts per Trillion
    What it means in practical terms:
    Well trained SCUBA divers have known for many decades that one should never touch coral because it is easily killed by substances on our skin; my own training (1989, Philippines) included that warning.
    When we first heard about the link between sunscreen and coral bleaching, they didn’t know exactly *why* it happened, but the researchers were confident enough that divers began to avoid sunscreen use, since they do get *close* to coral, even if they don’t touch it.
    Yes, massive use of sunscreen by beachgoers, and undegraded chemicals in other pollution sources are also very significant. Yet divers using sunscreen actually bring the chemicals right to the coral.
    Some complain that if it were that bad, all the coral would already be dead. Well, no. It isn’t that bad in all of the oceans, and existing currents *do* carry away the chemicals and dilute them. Take a look at this map of Maui: 0 ppt in some places, much more in others. http://www.haereticus-lab.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Photo-Oxybenzone-2.jpg
    Bottom line: there’s unquestionably a problem.

  49. This is a positive development. When did sunscreen replace clothing for the melanin challenged anyway? Manage your exposure in the sun. I was on the big island 3 times and managed with the ‘safe’ sunscreen, umbrellas for places like Puna beach which is not a snorkeling spot and when going to the snorkeling spots mostly managed my exposure with time, clothing and shade. I have to say if you start with that approach, the results are far superior to relying on some dubious chemicals that have about as much efficacy as a statin for cholesterol levels. This will burn the stupid people off the beach. They can stay on the resort pool decks and do their social strutting and preening. The effluent from there can be treated and discharged with the least impact possible.

  50. I’d like to ask that this be read by Anthony himself before anyone writes it off. I’m fully on his side and have been from the start and only want to help the cause. The important stuff is at the end. Thanks. I added that after, and now here what I wrote.
    Great article, So worthy of comment.
    Aloha brother.
    This is a very topical subject that we will see spread as another green disease imposed on us all, like the protection of the totally unendangered alpha-predator shark species (bull and tiger) whom we are told we must allow our children to be eaten by because that is the only way the greens can save the world. Like the super effective practice of cutting virgin’s hearts out and throwing the sacrificed victims into the volcano, these social scientists know that the greater the extremity of their call for sacrifice, the more the masses will take seriously and fear the catastrophe the priests both threaten and profess to know how to alleviate. All they need to do to make the people accept it is to repeat and repeat it, and keep calling for even greater sacrifice, and control opposition by control of education and information. So, yeah, the call to risk skin cancer by not using sunscreens is perfect in its ludicrous extreme for the purpose of mind manipulation BECAUSE every skerrick of common sense and intelligence we all have, cries out that the parts per trillion of a product so harmless at a cellular level that the giant cosmetic houses’ labs have approved it to be rubbed into rich women’s faces, risking billions in law suits if it is found dangerous to their cells, and which obviously floats on the surface, nowhere near the coral, and it is beyond belief when so little of the product goes into such enormous quantities of water etc. But everyone thinks that if they keep calling for it, what they say must be true and the danger extreme if such dire straights have to be gone to.
    That’s the important point in this. The climate war is now run by a different set of scientists and has nothing to do with the science of climatology.
    On coral, it’s bleaching and the conditions needed for it’s ability to survive and prosper, my knowledge is limited to a sparse amount of literature on it and 44 years and thousands of hours diving on the fastest growing reef in the world, one which also has an incredible variety of different coral species, so just about all major types and not just one are there for me to observe.
    My reaction to bleaching was, “Bleaching!? A problem!?” Parts of our reef bleach every year, through various causes, and they recover within a month every time. And when you look at things like the big study on the Great Barrier Reef, they say the same thing in it, but the press release conclusion at the end stresses a danger of what might happen, if they are not funded to survey it, meaning, in reality, we should pay them to continue producing the same result. The reef is in no danger under the present conditions with which Australians have been protecting it. These people think the people who dig holes in the Queensland sun for them should pay them to play around in tropical lagoons provided with every toy they wish for and the service they are actually providing is no more use than surveying a hole that is already dug and filled in. They, the ones who know best that the bleaching scare is a hoax, are the ones being paid to perpetuate it.
    This whole sunscreen thing is a joke we can all see through, yet they will surely force it on us everywhere.
    Why the article uses 55,000 out of the millions of global deaths per year, as some type of thing for concern and that you tend to have concern yourself is an eye-opener. A staggering omission was that there was not one mention of any danger to the Hawaiian people, who are the obvious potential victims, who will be in the sun their entire lives. Please realise it paints statesiders as being all in tears and fury about the 7 million tourists per year who will average maybe 10 days each of exposure. Also, looking at it, it appears a bit weak that the fear about the likelyhood that, of 55,000 worldwide deaths, out of 6 billion people, some tragedy will fall on possibly one of the 7 million tourists who are only exposed for 10 days, and it is about as sympathy inspiring as using 5 deaths caused by the flood of the Yangtze River to anyone but an American tourist, if no one knew that previously.
    The bottom line is that the tragic victim of the piece, statistically, is zero, especially when you discard the Hawaiian people as meaningless and non existent. Even the rest of the world appears meaningless in the way the 55,000 had to be footnoted as worldwide and not American.
    The point in mentioning that has nothing to do with my detestation and fight against political correctness and its insidious takeover of our minds through our guilt in continuously chastising ourselves for thinking the old “bad” word before searching for the new flavour of the month word. My reason for doing so has to do with climatology and is to highlight the Northern Hemisphere geocentricity that appears to be blinding you all to the fact that the Northern Hemisphere plays no part in global climate. The Atlantic Ocean is not the centre of the universe. You basically totally ignore the South.
    The answer to everything is contained in the 100,000,000 tons of frigid water that passes any given point every second that is circulating round the planetoid size ice block, occupying everything up to 40°S and reaching all the way to the sea floor and driven along by the spinning of the Earth.
    I have no idea why the sole regulator of Earth’s temperature is ignored. I mean, don’t you hate it and have a huge urge to reject any idea that doesn’t come from one of your post doctoral peers!
    All I ask is stuff like how does the alarmist’s “warm” Antarctic meltwater get through the CIRCUMPOLAR Current retaining any of it’s heat or freshness after spinning round the bottom 40s 50s 60s, some of the 70s and the ice for who knows how long before it gets back out into the world?
    Then you have to ask how the rest of the world’s heat could ever have the slightest chance of getting through the circulating water and winds without having it’s heat bled off long before it could get anywhere near the ice.
    Am I correct in saying it does have an affect on global climate seeing that before it was there, average ocean temperature was 21°C and now the Earth’s heat content, the thing they say is increasing 3°C, the ocean, is reflected in average ocean temperature being about 6°C, and that it is, also, the known cause of ice being present in today’s world?
    It just sucks in any amount of heat from the rest of the world and throws it back out cold. Antarctica is like the bottom of the abyss, a totally isolated climate of it’s own, which highlights the idea of separate climates making up a whole, but the whole or global climate could just about be called an invention.
    The SOUTHERN Oscillation, in reality, cools the world in one phase and cools it even more in the other. That should be stressed in every mention of it.
    In order to make the world hotter or colder, polar amplification proves that can only be done if something affects Antarctica, and seeing Antarctica cannot be affected by the rest of the world, that points to global climate being driven by things that affect Antarctica. That’s the place to look and we know the few options.
    Like Copernicus, all you have to do is observe it all then get the idea that possibly the Earth spins, and everything fits. Funny that that’s where the current gets all its gargantuan energy, and the CO2 thing being all about energy, there we find, apart from the heat energy contained in the ocean, you are all ignoring the thing that no doubt possesses the greatest amount of energy in the world.
    A look at a map of the world from where climatologists should be looking will show you that that’s what drives the Gulfstream and all major currents. Our globe spins brothers. That thermal haleine action in the North Atlantic little offshoot couldn’t drive a nail in comparison. Start by seeing the Agullus Current being water that is pushed by the spinning Earth’s circumpolar current and you see how it is diverted by West Africa, across toward Brazil and despite the Corialis Effect it is then pushed, by its confrontation with the hip of Brazil, across the equator into and driving, along with the Corialis Effect, the Gulfstream, which we all know heads across to Africa and circles, and the part that heads north is only a minor offshoot, regardless of how much importance you pay it because it affects your climate with its landlocked sea at it’s pole.
    They may have tagged the sinking cold salty water up there and followed it to the Pacific but did they even look for the tags down in the frigid giant waves and storms of the Great Southern Ocean, which you only believe is not the biggest ocean in the world because of lines drawn on a geocentric piece of imagination we call a map..
    All your years of study and I learnt that from a NGS map of Antarctica and a couple of paragraphs from Asimov’s 1980 edition of his Book of Science. Plus looking into the curiosity that some scientists no longer believe in Polar Amplification in Antarctica when, because of the ice cores and other proxies it surely occurs there. That led to being sure Antarctica controls it all, and it all fits. I have spent a decade of self education on it and spent maybe a year all told just sitting thinking about how each change to one thing changes other things and what those changes are and what they change. As mental exercise, climate is top notch.
    So the models may well be correct about what the increase in CO2 should do and us deniers are correct in following the observations and denying there is any significant warming, and that makes everyone is correct. It’s just that when the greenhouse gases heat the rest of the world, it’s ocean, the circumpolar current takes in the warm water circles it round bleeding it to space in the cold dark winter, in degrees Kelvin to space at 0°K. Space doesn’t care if it is 250°K or 274°K, it bleeds. It never gets near Antarctica and Antarctica doesn’t bleed more than it receives from the sun, it’s only source of heat, so it doesn’t get colder. It’s reached equilibrium.
    That agrees with the melting Arctic because of greenhouse gases and black soot. It agrees with everything. It is there to see and examine. It answers every question and arguement. It imbibes an overall understanding.
    Global Warming should be happening, but it is not. And the reason why it is not happening is the same reason why there is ice on our planet. A radiator powered by the spin.
    What do you reckon?

  51. I read the paper DOI 10.1007/s00244-015-0227-7 a bit and was blown away. There is something materially wrong. The dose-response rate is perfectly logarithmic. This means that in a test tube at 0.2 part per thousand 80% of coral cells die (which is not surprising, that is about 3% sunscreen/water mix), yet lowering the concentration by a million times still kills 10% of cells. (Figure 10) This is unheard of. It’s as if drinking 2litres of 180 proof alcohol kills 80% of people, and drinking 0.000002 l of alcohol kills 10 %! Saying that its hard to believe is putting it mildly. Double-blind studies need to be done to try to replicate these incredible results. If they are replicated (there is a whole thing out now about non-repeatable experiments) would garner a huge prize for the authors. While dose – response curves are usually plotted on log – linear graphs the classic S shape occurs over perhaps one decade of dose, not five. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dose–response_relationship. In addition the error bars look small. Also they fitted the data to a straight line, where it should have been fitted to an S curve, which, when combined with a proper double blind analysis of the data would find a safe concentration in water something on the order of 100x higher than was measured in the reef water tested.

    • Tom, I suspect you’re not taking into account the biology. A few thoughts:
      1) Your reference link actually shows a dose-response curve that visibly occurs over four decades, not one.
      2) A given “stressor” doesn’t have just one dose-response curve. The curve in the link you nicely provided identifies a minimum “effective” dose (or whatever)… but a different curve would be used to quantify a different effect such as toxicity or mutagenic factors. There could easily be many orders of magnitude in between.
      3) We’re not dealing with a simple chemical for which dose-response applies in the first place! These substances promote a viral infection in coral, which (by definition) has an exponential impact.
      (At the moment, I relate this to another disease with many orders of magnitude “dose response” relationship — Celiac. Incredibly tiny amounts of gliadin (a gluten protein) can cause tremendous harm… yet the body can tolerate quite a lot more without it being truly toxic.

  52. I am a resident of Hawaii. I swim, snorkel and scuba the West Hawaii reefs. We had a significant coral bleaching events in 2014 and 2015. It looks like a coral graveyard out there. From a NOAA report “Alarmingly, in the present report, the researchers found that 68% of West Hawaiʻi’s shallow coral reefs and 60% of its deep reefs were partially or fully bleached in October of 2015. Between 50 and 99% of the corals died due to the bleaching event at some sites surveyed along West Hawaiʻi. Since ocean waters are expected to continue to warm, bleaching events are expected to increase in frequency and severity.” Nature has a way of adapting to change given a chance, albeit extinctions happen. We need to give the reefs every chance to recover and adapt to our changing ocean as acidification and warmer temperatures kick in. And the science has been coming in from all over the world and being published in highly regarded journals; oxybenzone has lethal impacts on juvenile corals and also disrupts development in other invertebrates as well as vertebrates (fishes).
    I’ve noted that some comments painted the issue as an Us vs.Them dynamic, with Them being the corals. Let’s talk about that. We need coral reefs for the well-being of the human race. They protect the coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and storm surge, and as a biodiverse ecosystem, they assist with carbon and nitrogen fixing, and provide shelter for many marine organisms. They provide the breeding grounds for fish spawns and serve as a nursery for many juvenile fish before they fledge to the open sea, and thus are the foundation of the fishing industry. Billions of people worldwide rely upon the ocean for food and jobs. There is no separating the human race from the natural world; we need a healthy planet.
    And a little bit about the human health aspect in all this. Oxybenzone is an endocrine disruptor. It acts like estrogen and suppresses mightily those androgenic hormones that make for manly men. And guess what? It gets absorbed through our skin. The research is starting to come in documenting that it messes up development in humans as well as promoting endometriosis,metastasis of breast cancer, inhibiting sperm viability, and causing a serious birth defect. And by the by, it’s not such a great sunscreen. It’s not nearly as good as zinc oxide which is broad spectrum (blocks UVA and UVB). But it is cheap to make and corporations make a lot of money selling products that they know are harmful to people and to reefs. Those CEOs didn’t choose between corals and humans. They chose between harming humans and corals and getting a bigger Christmas bonus. Your health vs. a Lexus. Surprise. You lose.
    The reality is that the Hawaii Legislature has done it’s homework. Hawaii is leading the way toward a healthier world for the corals and a healthier world for people. Aloha.

  53. As my mom the chemist used to say (quoting Paracelsus), “the dose makes the poison.” A big enough dose of just about anything makes it poisonous, and a small enough dose of anything is safe. The issue with pollutants is almost always quantifying the effects.
    Many studies are flawed, or just turn out to have been wrong. Too often people do experiments with unrealistic levels/doses, or under unrealistic conditions, and detect harm, and then just assume that a smaller dose is also harmful, just less so. But that is very often wrong. E.g., drinking a gallon of water all at once might well kill you (and if you’re a small person it would probably kill you), but drinking a cup of water all at once is not 1/16th as harmful.
    The obvious natural “testbeds” for the effects of pollutants on corals would be the lagoons in coral atolls. Because they contain relatively small amounts of water in fairly enclosed spaces, “doses” are going to be much less diluted there than in the open Pacific. So if you want to learn more about the effects of various pollutants on coral, I’d start with studies of atolls. If an effect hasn’t been proven in atoll lagoons, I wouldn’t worry about it in the open Pacific. If an effect has been proven in atoll lagoons, then it is worth further examination w/r/t the open Pacific.
    However, most sunscreen doesn’t end up in the ocean. Even if oxybenzone turns out to be as damaging to corals as some people think it is, does it make sense to ban its use by farmworkers in the cane fields? Why not continue to permit it as an ingredient in non-waterproof sunscreens, which swimmers never use anyhow?

  54. They should ban tourism in general not only because of dangerous products that are being used but also all the fossil fuel that supports the tourism industry. They should ban all transportation to and from the islands that involve the use of fossil fuels.

  55. Anyone who believes the amount of sunscreen washing off the bodies of all the tourists in the world is significant in any way compared to the volume of the ocean is in no way different from those people who believe in homeopathy……because there is about as much left after wave action gets through with it.

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