Cosmetic companies lobby to kill Maui’s reefs

I’m disappointed in the Dec. 2 Maui News one-sided story about banning sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. These chemicals should never have been allowed in sunscreen without testing to demonstrate that they are safe for human health and the environment — as we now know they cause harm.

The Maui News photo and article focused on testimony by a handful of paid lobbyists flown in for cosmetic companies that use the chemicals — thus ignoring 90-plus testifiers and over 2,000 testimonies in writing, including marine experts and scientists in favor of the ban on reef-killing chemicals in sunscreens.

There are ways to protect your skin without damaging the reef: wetsuits, swim shirts, utilize shade, umbrellas, etc. The U.S. National Parks Service, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Environmental Working Group and others recommend using zinc oxide sunscreen, which is mineral-based, instead of chemical ones. Hawaiian Moons, Mana Foods, Whole Foods, Costco and Safeway all sell this type of sunscreen.

Consider chlorofluorocarbons. When we realized that CFCs were damaging the ozone layer, the initial response by the chemical companies was that effective substitutes were impossible. We learned quickly they adapted once laws were passed to ban CFCs. It’s the same for oxybenzone. We know it kills the reef– let’s ban it! Let’s educate everyone who relies on or uses the ocean.

To those who stopped using/selling products with oxybenzone: mahalo! Also, big thanks to council member and mayoral candidate Elle Cochran for taking progressive steps to protect Maui nui!

Deborah Mader