CARL AZUZ: In which of these products would you most likely find the organic compound oxybenzone? Sunscreen, Gasoline, Artificial Sweetener or Hand Sanitizer? Oxybenzone is commonly found in sunscreen and other cosmetic products.
And the city of Key West, Florida has joined the state of Hawaii in banning sunscreens that contain oxybenzone along with another chemical called octinoxate. Both of these ingredients are used to help protect people from the sun's ultraviolet rays. But some scientists believe that when they wash off people's skin, they're harmful to marine ecosystems like coral reefs. The reefs near Key West are important to both people and wildlife. They contribute to Florida's fishing and tourism industries. They're home to thousands of species of plants, fish and other marine animals. So the Key West City Commission calls it an obligation to take steps to protect the reefs by eliminating certain sunscreen ingredients.
A lot of popular brands from Coppertone to Neutrogena will be effected. And some representatives from the sunscreen manufacturing industry say there's still doubt about whether the banned chemicals actually hurt the reefs. Key West is not banning all sunscreens. Mineral products that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide will still be allowed. But a consumer report study published in 2017 found they did not perform as well as chemical sunscreens. And according to the Miami Herald, some dermatologists are concerned that banning oxybenzone and octinoxate could lead to increases in skin cancer. The new laws in both Key West and Hawaii take effect on January 1st, 2021.
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