Oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemical names may sound unfamiliar, but it is very likely that you have slathered them over your body more than once. Oxybenzone and octinoxate are the chemicals found in sunscreens that are under consideration for a ban in the state of Hawai’i. While Hawai’i would be the first state to ban the sale and distribution of the potentially problematic sunscreens, a few resorts, ocean tours, and other tourist areas in Mexico, like several on the island of Cozumel, already ban their use.

These ingredients offer our skin protection from burns and potentially cancer by absorbing harmful ultraviolet radiation before it reaches our skin. However, recent research shows that oxybenzone and octinoxate are detrimental to coral growth and increase the rate of coral bleaching. They are also shown to damage coral DNA, to impair coral reproduction, and to make it harder for coral to heal after breakage.

Why are some sunscreens harmful to coral reefs?

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