the pacific nation of palau plans to ban types of sunscreen in an attempt to protect coral reefs. the law defines reef-toxic sunscreen as containing any one of 10 chemicals, including oxybenzone and octinoxate, chemicals which researchers believe are linked to widespread damage to coral reefs.


president tommy remengesau jr last week signed legislation that bans ‘reef-toxic’ sunscreen from 2020. banned sunscreens will be confiscated from tourists who carry them into the country, and merchants selling the banned products will be fined up to $1,000. the legislation will also require tour operators to start providing customers with reusable cups, straws and food containers in a bid to prevent single-use plastics endangering ocean species.


the change comes after a study on jellyfish lake, a unesco world heritage site, found the presence of oxybenzone in the water, sediment and jellyfish samples. the lake was closed for more than a year due to declining jellyfish numbers before being recently reopened. remengesau jr noted findings that ‘plastic waste, chemical pollution, resource overconsumption, and climate change all continue to threaten the health of our pristine paradise‘. 


it also comes after hawaii banned the sale of sunscreen containing the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate from 2021 in an attempt to protect its reefs. in hawaii, however, tourists will still be able to bring the banned sunscreen with them into the state or buy it there if they have a doctor’s prescription.