Thailand announced a ban on sunscreens with chemicals that are claimed to be destroying the corals.
Growing concerns indicate that the lotions used by tourists for sun protection are actually destroying the slow-growing corals.
The Thai Department of Conservation emphasizes four ingredients present in sunscreen creams and lotions that are destructive for coral larvae and thus, prevent coral reproduction and trigger reef bleaching.
Thailand Bans Use of Sunscreens in Marine National Parks
Anyone who doesn’t respect the ban can be fined up to 100,000 baht or $3000; however, it remains unclear how the Thai officials plan to enforce the new rule. The banned lotions and creams are the ones that have octinoxate, butylparaben, oxybenzone, and 4-methyl benzylidene.
These chemicals are often used as UV filters and butylparaben is used as a fragrance or a preservative. These chemicals are suspected to cause endocrine disruption which affects coral development, even when released in smaller amounts.
Scientific data that’s backing up this ban notes that these chemicals worsen the health of the coral reefs, destroy the coral larvae, mess up their reproductive system, and trigger coral reef bleaching.
Similar bans have also been introduced in the US state of Hawaii and the Pacific Island of Palau. The one in Thailand is the newest attempt of the Thai government to keep their corals safe from the tourism industry.
Unfortunately, the Maya Bay located on the Phi Phi Leh island which became a famous tourist attraction after being shown in the movie The Beach is closed as of 2018 due to most of its coral being destroyed.
After an initial alert in 2008, several studies have emphasized the negative impact of sunscreen on marine species. One 2015 research found oxybenzone to be damaging to coral reefs.
The Sunscreen Industry Is Denying these Claims
Part of the sunscreen industry denies that sunscreen products have a negative influence on coral reefs. According to them, it’s global warming that’s deteriorating the health of coral reefs.
Still, products with labels saying that they protect the skin from the sun and also preserve the ocean have been appearing on the market in a higher number. You can check a list of eco-responsible sunscreen on the list published by the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory every year.