Florida senate member Linda Stewart has proposed a new bill that would require a prescription to obtain certain sunscreens. This is in an effort to protect Florida’s coral reefs from extinction.
In particular, the bill would require a prescription for any sunscreen containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemicals are used to protect against UV radiation from the sun, but also have an impact on reefs.
They can cause the reefs to experience coral bleaching and eventually kill it off. These are found in most sunscreens, which means the bill will have a huge impact on the market.
Coral Reefs Are Important For Florida
Coral reefs are extremely important to Florida for a variety of reasons. Thus, their protection is a top priority.
For starters, reefs protect coastlines. Reefs absorb a staggering 97% of the impact of waves. This helps protect structures that are built on coastlines, which are quite expensive.
Coral reefs are a huge tourist attraction in Florida. Tourists come from all over the world to visit reefs in the state. Losing them would severely impact the state’s economy.
Many fish rely on reefs for food and shelter. Their disappearance would have a huge impact on the biodiversity of Florida’s oceans.
Criticism of the Bill
As with all pieces of legislation, there are opponents of the bill.
In particular, not wearing sunscreen increases the chances of skin cancer according to dermatologists. Which is the very same criticism that an almost identical bill in Hawaii received.
However, the aim of the bill is to prevent sunscreens that damage coral reefs. This bill would encourage the use of reef-safe sunscreen, which does exist and is available to buy.
However, the term “reef safe” has not been defined, thus manufacturers can have their bottles say it even if it is not true.
The bill’s aim is to increase awareness and protect the reefs but is unlikely to pass.