Florida

2 U.S. representatives want to ban the use of popular sunscreen chemicals

Activist shows support for ban on sunscreens that may harm coral reefs

An activist shows her support for a ban on the sale of certain sunscreens at Key West City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.
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An activist shows her support for a ban on the sale of certain sunscreens at Key West City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019.

Two South Florida members of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday introduced legislation to ban the use of two popular sunscreen ingredients, oxybenzone and octinoxate, in the National Marine Sanctuary.

The region includes the coral reefs found off the coast of the Florida Keys and the proposed law comes a month after the Key West City Commission banned the sale or distribution of sunscreens containing the two chemicals.

Miami Beach is considering a ban on the sale of sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate. Key West’s ban starts on Jan. 1, 2021.

But U.S. Reps. Francis Rooney, R-Naples, and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Miami, want to go further by preventing people from using the sunscreen chemicals while in the sanctuary.

“These chemicals are killing our coral reefs, which are vital to the marine ecosystem here in Florida and around the world,” Rooney said in a statement.

But they may have a battle on their hands, as the sunscreen industry contends the two chemicals prevent skin cancer and that the scientific study of whether they’re harmful to the coral reef is inconclusive.

“Taking small steps, like preventing harmful chemicals from reaching coral reefs, can help ensure future generations can enjoy our beautiful ecosystems and protect tourism,” said Mucarsel-Powell, whose constituency includes the Keys.

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