Hawaii Legislators introduce bipartisan bill to ban sunscreens containing ingredients not considered “Safe and Effective” by the FDA

Thursday, January 30, 2020
Senate Contact: Jesse Broder Van Dyke
Office: 808-586-6261
House Contact: Carolyn Tanaka
Office: 808-586-6133 Cell: 808-381-7752

Hawaii Legislators introduce bipartisan bill to ban sunscreens containing ingredients not considered “Safe and Effective” by the FDA
Builds on 2018 reef-safe law to include human health concerns raised in recent FDA studies

HONOLULU - Members of the Hawai‘i State Senate and House of Representatives introduced a bipartisan bill to ban all sunscreen SPF products that are not “General Recognized as Safe and Effective” by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

In the Senate, SB2278 was introduced by Senators Mike Gabbard, Gil Riviere, Russell Ruderman, Sharon Moriwaki, and Clarence Nishihara. In the House, HB2248 was introduced by Representatives Gene Ward, Rida Cabanilla Arakawa, Chris Lee, Amy Perruso, David Tarnas, Chris Todd, Tom Brower, Lynn DeCoite, and Dee Morikawa.

This legislation builds upon the 2018 law in which Hawaii banned the sale of sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate. The 2018 law reduced the impact of sunscreen pollution to Hawai‘i’s coral reefs. Oxybenzone and octinoxate were demonstrated to contaminate much of Hawaii’s coastline at concentrations that are poisonous to coral, fish, sea urchins and algae, as well as marine mammals and sea turtles. Other countries and jurisdictions followed Hawai‘i’s example, implementing their own bans, including Palau, Aruba, Bonaire, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Marshall Islands, and the city of Key West.

“The World Health Organization has stated that chemicals, like sunscreens which the FDA lists as NOT safe for human use, pose a health risk to all living things that have endocrine receptors that regulate hormones,” stated Rep. Ward. “This includes corals and fish, and humans, especially pregnant women.

“This bipartisan bill improves the health of Hawai‘i’s residents and its over 10 million visitors a year,” he said, “as well as all of our treasured marine life.”

This new bill is intended to address concerns about certain sunscreen ingredients on human health. Recent FDA studies have demonstrated potential negative health effects of a number of other ingredients that are still allowed in Hawai‘i.

“Hawai‘i made history in 2018 when we were the first in the world to take action to help protect our coral reefs by creating a law to ban the dangerous chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, from sunscreens,” said Sen. Gabbard. “With SB 2778/HB 2248, we’re taking the next step to protect human health by prohibiting other sunscreen chemicals that the FDA doesn’t consider to be safe.”

On January 21, 2020, Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said, “To support sunscreen safety, the FDA tested whether various sunscreen ingredients can be absorbed through the skin into the body. Results from our study released today show there is evidence that some sunscreen active ingredients may be absorbed.” She called for further research to determine the health effects. FDA news release (January 21, 2020): FDA announces results from second sunscreen absorption study

According to WebMD, “Previous research has shown that some of the ingredients in the FDA study can disrupt hormones and may lead to fertility problems, poor birth outcomes for babies, and perhaps cancer.” WebMD (January 21, 2020): FDA Sunscreen Report Raises Concern Over Chemicals

Under this legislation, only zinc oxide and titanium dioxide sunscreens would be allowed to be sold in Hawai‘i, as these are the only two ingredients that are “General Recognized as Safe and Effective” by the FDA.

Fourteen other ingredients would be banned. PABA and Trolamine were determined to be NOT safe for over-the-counter use. Twelve other ingredients the FDA said there was not enough data to determine if the health risks of being exposed to these drugs outweigh the benefits, or whether these drugs are actually effective in reducing UV-exposure. This includes oxybenzone and octinoxate which were banned in 2018, and homosalate, avobenzone, and octocrylene which are currently allowed to be sold in Hawai‘i.

CNN (January 21, 2020): Seven sunscreen chemicals enter bloodstream after one use, FDA says, but don't abandon sun protection