Airmen from the 96th Air Refueling Squadron participate in a kayak race as their coworkers and family members cheer them on during the 96th ARS Wingman Day at Hickam Beach on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Feb. 20, 2014. The squadron spent their day participating in activities that fostered togetherness and teamwork. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jerome S. Tayborn)

In a world first, Hawaiian lawmakers last month passed a bill banning the sale of sunscreens that contain chemicals harmful to ocean wildlife.

If Gov. David Ige signs the bill into law (it is not yet known when or even if this will happen), it means that, as of January 21, 2021, tourists on any of the Hawaiian islands will no longer be able to duck into a bodega or hotel market to grab a cheap bottle of Coppertone, Hawaiian Tropic or Banana Boat — all of which contain oxybenzone and octinoxate.

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DIGEST [NPR, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, Smithsonian, EWG]

A key ingredient in many sunscreen products is contributing to the rapid decline of coral reefs around the planet, according to findings in a new study published in the Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. Scientists, including researchers from the United States and Israel, found high concentrations of oxybenzone near coral reefs in Hawaii, Israel and the Caribbean. The ingredient has been found to damage or kill the delicate reef structures. However, the chemical can be devastating even in low doses: The Christian Science Monitor reports that just a tiny amount of oxybenzone — 62 parts per trillion, or a drop of water in six Olympic-sized swimming pools — can be toxic to fragile young coral. In higher concentrations, it can also prove fatal to adult coral.

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