The Pacific island of Palau is set to ban ‘reef toxic’ sunscreens in a bid to protect corals.

A law has been signed by the government which, according to The BBC, ‘restricts the sale and use of sunscreen and skincare products that contain a list of ten different chemicals.’

Researchers say that these chemicals are extremely toxic to marine life and can make coral more vulnerable to bleaching.

Known as a world-class diving destination with underwater features that include blue holes, drop offs and caves, Palau is said to be the first country to put the ban in place which will be imposed in 2020.

The ban will see fines of $1,000 (£760) for retailers who break the law.

Palau’s President Tommy Remengesau told The BBC: “The power to confiscate sunscreens should be enough to deter their non-commercial use, and these provisions walk a smart balance between educating tourists and scaring them away.”

According to the report, it is estimated that ‘between 6-14,000 tonnes of sunscreen wash off people and go into reef areas every year.’

The two ingredients scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about are oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are used in sun protection due to their ability to absorb ultraviolet light. But it is these chemicals which are thought to make coral more susceptible to bleaching.

Main image: Stock image of coral by Tomoe Steineck

Lorna Dockerill
Lorna fell in love with scuba diving back in 2011 during a trip to Thailand and Australia. Having always dreamt of seeing a sea turtle in the wild, her dream was realised on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef while training to become a certified diver. Since then she’s developed a passion for the natural world, writing about wildlife photography – both the on land and underwater kind – for the past eight years.


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