An emerging concern among ocean scientists, stewards, and beach-goers is the impact that certain chemical sunscreens have on the marine environment, notably coral reefs, and human health.
This has led to bans on the sale and use of conventional sunscreens in states like Hawaii, and island communities including Key West, the US Virgin Islands, Aruba and Palau.
The Florida Reef Tract is the third largest barrier reef system in the world. NOAA suggests that coral reefs in southeast Florida have an asset value of $8.5 billion, generating $4.4 billion in local sales, $2 billion in local income, and 70,400 full and part-time jobs.
Our Florida coral reefs are paramount to our economy, and we need to protect them. Some threats, like the warming and acidification of the ocean, are global in scale. Other stressors, like the threats posed by oxybenzone and octinoxate, are immediately preventable. We must take action to increase reef resiliency and give this critical ecosystem a fighting chance. Surfrider Activists can do that by educating your local community on the risks of toxic sunscreens, ensuring micro-sized mineral based sunscreens are readily available in local stores, and asking your elected officials to enact “sunscreen ordinances” along Southeast Florida coast.
– Co-sponsor SB 318 (Sen. Stewart)- this good bill would ban the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate statewide, without a prescription.
– Oppose SB 172 (Sen. Bradley) & HB 113 (Rep. Roach)- this bad bill would take away local authority to regulate sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals that impact the health of coral reefs. This bill would strip Key West of its existing ordinance and prohibit cities and counties from passing any ordinances in the future.