Palau will be the first country to ban sunscreen to save its coral reefs. Last week, President Tommy Remengesau Jr. signed the law banning "reeftoxic" sunscreen from 2020.
The island state located in the western Pacific takes over the preservation and protection of its coral reefs. Sunscreen is defined as one of ten chemicals used in sunscreen lotions, including oxybenzone.
Mr Remengesau said a major impetus to the ban was a 2017 report that found that sunscreen products are widely used in Palau's Jellyfish Lake, which they shut down for over a year due to falling jellyfish numbers. Sunscreen was confiscated by tourists who brought it in, while traders selling these banned products could be fined up to $ 1,395.
The law will also oblige tour operators to offer customers reusable cups, straws and food containers.
"If our most famous tour sites have four boats per hour, [and tourists] They need at least an ounce of sunscreen to cover up, which is equivalent to a gallon every three hours, "said Palau government spokesman Olkeriil Kazuo, ABC's Pacific Beat. "Every day, that would mean three or five gallons of sunscreen into the ocean and the famous dive sites of Palau, snorkeling, biodiversity and corals.
"That's pollution for the president and the administration."
Some studies have shown that sunscreen chemicals can be toxic to coral reefs, which are important components of the oceanic ecosystem. However, critics said that there are not enough independent studies on the subject to justify the ban. Sunscreens are also an important protection for people under the sun.
The ban will apply from 1 January 2020. Meanwhile, manufacturers sell sunscreen, which are "reef friendly" and contain no banned ingredients.
In May, Hawaii became the first US state to ban the sale of sunscreen with oxybenzone and octinoxate.
For Australia, which is trying to restore its Great Barrier Reef, there are not enough scientific studies to support the ban on sunscreens.
"It is still a matter of balancing our planetary health with human health when we know that two out of every three Australians will get skin cancer during their lifetime," quoted ABC Chief Executive Officer of the Cancer Council Australia, ABC. "If there was strong evidence of marine damage and that TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration), which regulates sunscreen and chemicals used in sunscreens, believed it was harmful, we would support it."