Palau to ban “reef-toxic” sunscreens from 2020

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In a move that it calls the world’s first initiative to stop chemical pollution from killing corals, Pacific island Palau will ban the “reef-toxic” sunscreens from 2020.

The government says there is scientific evidence that certain sunscreens, even in minute quantities, are toxic to corals and lead to their deaths.

It says a fine of $1,000 (£760) will be imposed on retailers who violated the law.

Chemicals such as ingredients called oxybenzone and octinoxate used in sun screens, for absorbing ultraviolet light, are believed to make coral more susceptible to bleaching, studies have shown.

Other major threats faced by corals are climate, whose effects are predicted to impact 90% of the reefs by 2059, and algal bloom.

Globally 6-14,000 tonnes of sunscreen get washed off people into reef areas every year, according to estimates.

“On any given day that equates to gallons of sunscreen going into the ocean in Palau’s famous dive spots and snorkelling places,” said a spokesman for President Tommy Remengesau.

“We’re just looking at what we can do to prevent pollution from getting into the environment.”

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