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Florida city bans sunscreens containing oxybenzone, octinoxate

The City Commission of Key West, Florida, has voted to ban the sale of sunscreen products containing oxybenzone or octinoxate.

The ban, which will come into effect on 1 January 2021, is intended to protect the coral reefs off the coast of the beach destination, which has a population of 25,000.

It follows similar actions in Hawaii and Palau in recent months.

The ordinance says its intention is to preserve the marine ecosystem, amid concern that the substances have "significant harmful impacts on the marine environment and residing ecosystems around the water of Key West, including coral reefs that protect the shoreline".

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) and Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) both filed letters in opposition, citing a lack of scientific evidence that the ingredients are bleaching coral reefs.

"We fear this legislation will create confusion, put consumers’ health at risk and potentially discourage the use of sunscreens – an important part of a safe sun regimen," the PCPC wrote.

But support came from a variety of residents, NGOs, academics and manufacturers of sunscreens with alternative ingredients, many of whom said other products are available to the consumer.

The ordinance was agreed by a 6-1 margin.

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