Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Legislation to Protect Public Health and Coral Reef

May 8, 2019
Press Release
Washington, DC—Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) introduced the Oxybenzone and Octinoxate Impact Study Act of 2019 as well as the Reef Safe Act of 2019. The first of these bills would require an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study on the impacts of these chemicals on public health and the environment while the second would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop standards for a ‘‘Reef Safe’’ designation for nonprescription sunscreens.
“The ingredients in many common sunscreens are chemicals that have been proven to kill coral reef, harm marine life, and raise serious concerns about the impact they may have on people who use them. While proper skin protection is extremely important, we must make sure the ingredients used are safe for people and not jeopardizing the coral reef vital to local marine habitats and that help reduce coastal flood risk,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been a leader fighting to protect coral reefs supporting funding and greater awareness of their importance and the protection of our oceans. She has also addressed public health concerns related to chemical safety issues, water safety, and protecting people from toxic chemicals.
About 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter the world's reefs every year, according to a 2015 paper published in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. Oxybenzone and octinoxate cause mortality in developing corals, increasing coral bleaching and inducing genetic damage to coral and other marine organisms.
Last year, Hawai’i became the first state to enact legislation designed to protect coral reefs and marine ecosystems by banning sunscreens containing oxybenzone or octinoxate.
An FDA study released on May 6, 2019 found that it takes just one day of sunscreen use for oxybenzone to enter a person’s bloodstream.
A U.S. Geological Survey issued a report last month which studied the impact that coral reefs have on local communities. The study found that the annual value of flood risk reduction provided by U.S. coral reefs is more than 18,000 lives and over $1.8 billion, Hawai’i being one of the greatest beneficiaries of this protection.
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawaii’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for 16 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
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