Sunscreens that cause harm to coral reef banned in Key West

KEY WEST, Fla. ‘ City officials in Key West voted to ban sunscreens containing two ingredients that scientists have said are harmful to the coral reef ecosystem.

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In a 6-1 vote Tuesday, the Key West City Commission banned the sale of sunscreens using oxybenzone and octinoxate beginning on Jan. 1, 2021.

Mayor Teri Johnston said it’s the commission’s ‘obligation’ to protect the reef, which is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental U.S.

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Commissioner Greg Davila dissented, saying residents should have the choice of sunscreens they want to use.

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Sunscreens that may damage coral reefs may be banned in Key West

Your favorite sunscreen could soon be banned in Key West if it contains two specific ingredients lawmakers want out of these protective lotions.

The Key West City Commission approved a measure to ban sunscreens with Oxybenzone and Octinoxate on Tuesday night. The issue with the chemicals is that studies show they could be harmful to coral reef and cause coral bleaching. However, some experts disagree with those claims and argue their value to protecting people skin is more important.

The measure was initially approved at the meeting were about 100 people showed up and about 50 spoke out on the issue.

  • Publisher: WPEC
  • Date: 2019-01-17T06:10:54+00:00
  • Author: AJ Walker CBS12
  • Twitter: @
  • Citation: Web link (Learn more)

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Group Targets Proposed Key West Ban On Some Sunscreens

“Thousands of people in Key West spend their 9 to 5 under the sun,” a narrator says, over images of people on a commercial fishing boat and working at a construction site. “They have a very high UV risk. So they need access to the best protection.”

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“I’m asking you to reject a ban on sunscreen ingredients so that I can continue to use the formulas that I prefer and rely on for skin protection,” it says ‘ though users are encouraged to personalize their messages.

The proposed ordinance in Key West is modeled on Hawaii’s ban. It would prevent sunscreens containing oxybenzone and oxtinoxate from being sold or distributed on the island. Retailers would have a year to get them off the shelves.

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Key West Considers Sunscreen Ban – Florida Keys Weekly

In June, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed a trailblazing bill that will ban sunscreens containing chemicals, including oxybenzone, that have been proven harmful to coral reefs. Dr. Craig Downs, executive director of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory, was an influencing force in the Hawaiian state legislation. Downs has conducted research finding that oxybenzone in sunscreen contaminates coral, fish, marine mammals, bird eggs and sea turtle eggs. He presented his research at the Key West City Commission meeting Tuesday night.’

Executive Director of Reef Relief Mill McCleary also testified to the damage of oxybenzone sunscreens to the reef. He suggested viable alternatives, like zinc oxide sunscreens. Others also testified in favor and against the ban. Commissioner Jimmy Weekley spoke in favor of the ban: ‘I believe this is truly the right thing to do. We are dependent immensely on the water surrounding our island,’ and said it is the community’s responsibility to be ‘stewards for the next generation.’