Hawaii’s sunscreen ban

Coral reefs provide food and shelter to numerous marine animals. (flickr/USFWS)

Eden DeWald | July 11th, 2018

Hawaii is making a move to protect its coral reefs. A bill banning the distribution or sale of synthetic sunscreens in Hawaii was signed by Governor David Ige earlier this month. The ban will go into affect in January of 2021, and will prevent the sale of sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate.

There are two main types of sunscreen found in any drugstore—chemical and physical. Physical sunscreen, or mineral sunscreen, often has active ingredients such as titanium and zinc oxide, which reflect or scatter UV rays by forming a protective layer on the skin. Synthetic sunscreens, which often contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, soak into the skin. They protect the wearer by changing the electromagnetic affect of UV rays. Physical sunscreens are not at all affected by the ban and will still be available for retail sale and distribution.

According to a 2015 study, oxybenzone has been found to cause the bleaching of coral reefs, as well as endocrine damage. There have been fewer studies done concerning octinoxate, but similar damaging effects have been associated with this chemical. Approximately 14,000 gallons are estimated to end up in the waters off the coast of Hawaii each year, consequently banning sunscreens with oxybenzone and octinoxate has the potential to remove thousands gallons of coral reef damaging chemicals from the environment each year.

On the Radio- Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano

The United States Geological Survey captures activity in a lava lake created by Kilauea (USGS/flickr)

Eden DeWald| June 4, 2018

This weeks segment discusses the recent surge in activity from the Kilauea Volcano.


Kilauea is currently the world’s most active volcano.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

The Kilauea Volcano is located on the big island of Hawaii. It takes up 14% of the land and is said to house the Hawaiian volcano goddess, Pele. The oldest eruptions date back to two-thousand-eight- hundred years go. Kilauea was one of the first volcanoes studied by the Hawaiian Volcano Research Association in 1909.  

On May 3rd, 2018 the volcano erupted again after a five-point-zero earth quake hit the island. Thanks to attentive research and observation the eruption had been suspected and the area was already closed off to the public. The eruption still spewed lava into the residential areas of the Puna district.

The eruption itself did not cause any immediate injury to the locals but hundreds of homes were destroyed. Long lasting effects like smog inhalation and potential mud slides and avalanches will continue to affect the area.

For more information, visit iowa-environmental-focus dot org.

From the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.