Key West bans certain sunscreens to protect coral reef

Key West, Florida; Hawaii, and the nation of Palau are banning certain ingredients in sunscreen to protect coral reefs.

Posted: Feb 9, 2019 8:30 AM
Updated: Feb 9, 2019 8:30 AM

Key West, Florida, has voted to ban certain sunscreens in an effort to protect coral reefs in its surrounding waters.

The city joins a growing list of places that have banned sunscreens containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. The Pacific nation of Palau and the state of Hawaii both passed similar bans last year.

The two particular sunscreen ingredients are FDA-approved and help protect skin against damage from ultraviolet rays. So far, there's been no conclusive evidence to suggest the chemicals pose risks to humans.

There is a growing body of evidence, however, that suggests those sunscreen ingredients cause coral bleaching and other toxic effects to marine ecosystems when sunscreens worn by beachgoers wash off in the shower or in the water.

"To me, it boils right down to the fact that there are thousands of sunscreens out there and we have one reef," Mayor Teri Johnston said at a city commission meeting on Tuesday night. "And we have an opportunity to do one small thing to protect that. I believe it's our obligation."

Key West's ban will take effect on January 1, 2021, the same day Hawaii's ban is set to kick in. Both bans affect many popular sunscreen brands, including La Roche-Posay Face & Body Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk, Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 and Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch sunscreens.

First-time violations of Key West's ban will result in a written warning. After that, violations will follow the city's standard civil citation procedures.

The motion passed 6-1 in a Key West city commission meeting to rousing applause and cheers. The discussion on the proposed ban lasted more than two hours, with many Key West residents and activists from the environmental nonprofit organization Reef Relief giving speeches in support of the ban.

But not everyone was on board.

Officials from the sunscreen manufacturing industry voiced their opposition, citing public health concerns. They also disputed the extent to which chemicals in sunscreens are thought to affect coral reefs.

In a letter to the city commission before the meeting, Carlos Gutierrez, vice president of state and local government affairs for the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, cited an article that said the evidence that sunscreens cause coral bleaching is inconclusive.

"For CHPA, this issue is about public health," the statement read. "The stakes are far too high to rush into this product ban, especially when there are no proven benefits to coral reef if you go forward with the ban."

Lezlee Westine, the president and CEO of the Personal Care Products Council, voiced similar opposition in a letter to the commission.

"Ordinance File #18-3253, although well intended, lacks the necessary scientific evidence to demonstrate that these sunscreen ingredients are responsible for coral bleaching," the letter from the council read. "We fear this legislation will create confusion, put consumers' health at risk and potentially discourage the use of sunscreens -- an important part of a safe sun regimen."

The coral reefs are vital to Key West. The Florida Reef Tract is a major part of the state's fishing and tourism industries. The reef system is home to more than 6,000 species of plants, fish and aquatic life, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that species supported by reefs are key to finding new medicines. Reefs also prevent erosion on shorelines that could cause property damage or deaths.

Johnston said at the meeting that she believes Key West's ban will help educate people about the ingredients in the sunscreens they purchase.

"After a bold statement from this commission that we ban these two ingredients, there's not going to be one person who goes into that CVS that doesn't flip it over and take a look at the ingredients, and then make a personal decision on how they want to handle their sunscreen protection."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 58640

Reported Deaths: 1677
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin18641828
Ramsey7233261
Dakota4188104
Anoka3515114
Stearns286420
Washington200944
Nobles17536
Olmsted168823
Scott147918
Mower10942
Rice10138
Blue Earth8745
Wright8475
Carver8162
Clay76840
Sherburne7037
Kandiyohi6871
St. Louis48619
Todd4222
Lyon4213
Freeborn3581
Steele3381
Nicollet32913
Benton3153
Watonwan3010
Winona25416
Crow Wing22514
Beltrami2150
Le Sueur2101
Martin2045
Chisago1891
Goodhue1878
Otter Tail1853
Cottonwood1750
Becker1501
McLeod1480
Pipestone1479
Polk1453
Waseca1380
Douglas1360
Itasca13512
Carlton1320
Unassigned13241
Pine1280
Dodge1250
Murray1221
Isanti1160
Chippewa1011
Wabasha870
Brown862
Meeker852
Morrison851
Faribault830
Sibley822
Rock770
Koochiching743
Pennington731
Jackson720
Cass712
Mille Lacs693
Renville625
Fillmore610
Lincoln540
Grant523
Swift521
Yellow Medicine510
Pope460
Roseau460
Houston410
Norman370
Kanabec321
Redwood320
Wilkin323
Hubbard300
Aitkin291
Marshall290
Mahnomen261
Wadena240
Red Lake230
Big Stone220
Lake200
Stevens170
Clearwater150
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle60
Kittson30
Cook20
Lake of the Woods10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 47424

Reported Deaths: 910
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10032206
Woodbury369151
Black Hawk308463
Linn227987
Johnson202116
Dallas184635
Buena Vista179112
Scott165514
Dubuque162331
Marshall142525
Pottawattamie128426
Story114114
Wapello87233
Muscatine84048
Webster7727
Crawford7263
Sioux6143
Cerro Gordo59617
Warren5471
Tama54529
Jasper46626
Wright4551
Plymouth4528
Louisa38014
Dickinson3774
Clinton3623
Washington29310
Boone2442
Hamilton2441
Franklin2339
Bremer2037
Clarke1953
Emmet1882
Carroll1851
Shelby1771
Clay1761
Hardin1730
Marion1620
Allamakee1544
Poweshiek1538
Des Moines1522
Jackson1481
Benton1461
Floyd1432
Mahaska13917
Guthrie1315
Cedar1281
Jones1272
Buchanan1231
Hancock1212
Butler1192
Henry1193
Pocahontas1151
Madison1142
Lyon1092
Lee1073
Cherokee1031
Clayton1023
Harrison1020
Humboldt1001
Delaware991
Taylor960
Iowa941
Monona910
Winneshiek911
Mills850
Page850
Calhoun832
Kossuth830
Sac820
Fayette810
Jefferson800
Palo Alto800
Osceola790
Mitchell780
Winnebago770
Grundy761
Union751
Monroe697
Worth650
Lucas574
Chickasaw540
Montgomery534
Davis521
Cass501
Howard490
Appanoose473
Greene390
Fremont370
Van Buren341
Keokuk331
Ida290
Audubon281
Adair270
Decatur230
Ringgold211
Wayne191
Adams160
Unassigned30
Rochester
Scattered Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 63°
Mason City
Scattered Clouds
62° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 62°
Albert Lea
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 63°
Austin
64° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 64°
Charles City
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 63°
Warming temps and rain inbound
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Running for a cause

Image

Enjoying a Socially Distanced Concert

Image

Albert Lea Community Theater to halt production until next year

Image

Sara's 10pm Forecast - Thursday

Image

Tractor Pull Motors On

Image

Klobuchar Pushes Legislation for Mental Health Funding

Image

North Iowa shelter no longer in quarantine

Image

Sara's 6pm Forecast - Thursday

Image

Quality Kids Daycare acting as school

Image

Rules for political signs in Rochester

Community Events