2 Nov 2018 - The Pacific archipelago of Palau has become the first nation to ban sunscreens that some researchers believe are killing off coral reefs and damaging marine environments.
In a law passed this week, Palau defines the banned "reef-toxic" sunscreens as containing any one of 10 chemicals, including oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are found in the majority of sunscreens sold in the U.S., according to the Consumer Healthcare Products Association.
The nation of over 500 islands and around 21,000 people in the Micronesia region of the western Pacific Ocean has in the past taken steps to protect its biodiversity, which greatly contributes to tourism — its main economic driver.
Retailers who break the ban will face fines of $1,000.
"This short but important bill has the potential to make a lasting impact on the environment here," President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr., wrote in a letter accompanying the legislation. "As more and more people come to visit our pristine paradise with their own eyes, we cannot relinquish our responsibility for these islands."
Remengesau's spokesman, Olkeriil Kazuo, told NPR a big impetus for this legislation's passing was a 2017 report from the Coral Reef Research Foundation which found widespread sunscreen toxins in Jellyfish Lake, a UNESCO World Heritage site and highly popular tourist attraction.
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