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.
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. …
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.