Hawaii Sunscreen ban could have been avoided

Hawaii Sunscreen ban could have been avoided

By: Riddhi Dhadda
Hawaii corals

Recently the governor of Hawaii David Ige passed the first bill in the country that bans the use of sunscreens that contain chemicals harmful to coral reefs. The culprits oxybenzone and octinoxate, are used in many sunscreens help filter UV rays, but have been proven harmful to the health of the coral reefs.

A study in 2015 by Haereticus Environmental Laboratory,  a not-for-profit Research Institute, found  that the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, present in many  sunscreen brands, cause bleaching, DNA damage, deformities, and ultimately death of the coral reef. The study also shows that these chemicals are harmful to the aquatic life, can cause neurological behavioural changes in fish,  induce feminism characteristics in adult male fish and lead to diseases in sea urchins, parrotfish and other aquatic species. Over the time, exposure to these chemicals have an  detrimental effect on other endangered species like sea turtles found in the Hawaiin waters.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are the key ingredients in most of the sunscreens available today as they offer skin protection from burns.  But these chemicals, after exposure over the time can impair the coral reproductive system.

Oxybenzone chemical is especially more toxic for the juvenile form of corals and this is consistent with the dogma of toxicology that juveniles are usually a thousand times more sensitive to the toxic effects of a chemical than a parent.

How the ban could have been avoided

Software tool like ViridisChem’s Chemical Analyzer can help chemists, scientists, dermatologists evaluate the toxicity of known and novel chemicals within seconds. This platform uses information from the world’s largest toxicity database (covering 93 million chemicals, 3 billion properties) and utilizes industry-standard AI-powered prediction models to graphically present the toxicity of any chemical, including Oxybenzone and Octinoxate. 

Screen-shot of ViridisChem Chemical Analyzer tox-profiles

The Chemical Analyzer has the capacity to search for similar and less toxic chemicals and predict the toxicity of novel chemicals in real time, allowing users to explore both tested and untested alternatives (register for <ahref="https://app.viridischem.com/registration.html">FREE TRIAL). 

"With the recent focus of chemical toxicity impact on humans, animals and environment, Governments worldwide are adopting stricter regulations. As a result, companies are re-evaluating their production processes and trying to see how they can avoid product recalls by replacing the use of toxic chemicals with less toxic alternatives. But availability of comprehensive toxicity information is a critical issue. Even though the United Nations, US-EPA, EU-REACH are spending more resources to provide in-silico predictive information on the chemicals, covering the number of chemicals existing today is a major challenge. 

“This is one of the main reason we started ViridisChem to help scientists define sustainable and green product development, and help them make critical decisions on what to use and what to avoid." says Neelam Vaidya , CEO of ViridisChem.

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