Hawaii sunscreen ban to protect coral may be signed this week

In May, Hawaii passed a bill that would ban sunscreen products that cause harm to coral reefs, a move to address the growing number of dying coral. At the heart of the matter are two chemicals used within certain sunscreen products, both that have been found to cause damage to coral. According to a new report, Hawaii's Governor will sign the bill into law some time this week, concerns about potential fallout aside.

READ: Avoid these sunscreens (they kill coral)

Coral reefs around the world have suffered due to a combination of reasons, one of the biggest being warmer ocean temperatures due to climate change. Past studies have found that many popular sunscreen products, which protect swimmers from the harmful effects of the sun, contain two ingredients that damage coral.

Hawaii moved swiftly earlier this year to set the foundation for banning these products, but critics worry a ban will result in less people using sunscreen altogether rather than seeking out safe alternatives. A decrease in use of sunscreen could result in an increase in the number of skin cancer cases.

Despite that concern — that people may decrease their use of protective creams — Hawaii's government is set to sign the bill into law this week, according to WaPo. Assuming that happens, it'll be the first ban of its kind in the world. The ban would specifically block the sale of sunscreens that contain octinoxate and oxybenzone, the harmful compounds.

Under the bill, only someone with a prescription for sunscreen with these ingredients will be allowed to use them. Stores will need to pull products that contain either compound. It's a key effort to address the growing destruction of the ocean's coral, which have a vital role in the ecosystem. Not surprisingly, certain big companies are opposing the legislation — however, sunscreen products without the ingredients are easily available in stores and online.

Once the bill is signed, the ban will go into effect on January 1, 2021.