Sunblocks, sunscreens contribute to the bleaching and death of corals. Photo from Duke University
|CHEMICAL BLOCKERS FOUND IN SUNSCREENS that are toxic to corals in the ocean are addressed by bills introduced by Hawai‘i state senators this legislative session. Ka‘ū Sens. Josh Green and Russell Ruderman are on record as introducing three of the bills.|
In an effort to protect Hawai‘i’s coral reefs, lawmakers want to ban either the sale of sunscreens or the use of sunscreens that contain the chemical oxybenzone. Studies show it increases the rate of coral bleaching.
The Director of Communications for the Hawai‘i State Senate, Jill Kuramoto, explained: “There are several different bills introduced this session by the senators which address the issue in a variety of different ways. The hope is that there will be a robust discussion on this issue and will lead to an agreed upon measure that protects Hawai‘i’s waters and coral reefs, which is a priority for the state Senate.”
Four of the bills have similar preambles to explain how banning certain sunblocks will reduce coral bleaching.
SB 260: “The legislature finds that the health of Hawai‘i’s marine ecosystem is a matter of serious and ongoing concern in the state. In particular, coral in Hawai‘i’s waters have shown increasingly significant signs of damage, including extensive bleaching. The Legislature further finds that many factors, such as water temperature, contribute to this damage, but that the damage is exacerbated by the presence of chemicals that are toxic to coral. The Legislature additionally finds that recent research has demonstrated that oxybenzone and octinoxate are toxic to coral organisms, cause deformation in the larval form of coral, and contribute to coral bleaching. The legislature also finds that oxybenzone and octinoxate are chemical blockers that protect skin from ultraviolet radiation. As a result, oxybenzone and octinoxate are commonly found in sunscreens and other similar personal care products. Oxybenzone and octinoxate can be released into the ocean when a swimmer who has applied sunscreen enters the water, or through the waste mist plume of spray-on sunscreen. The Legislature further finds that elevated levels of oxybenzone and octinoxate have been detected at popular swimming beaches throughout the state, including Waimea Bay and Waikiki beach on O‘ahu, and Honolua bay on Maui. Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to prohibit the sale in the State of Hawai‘i personal care products containing oxybenzone and octinoxate.”
SB 260, SB 692 and SB 696 are both supported by Ruderman and Green. If enacted, SB 260 would prohibit the sale of sunblocks containing both offending chemicals. It is introduced by a total of 18 of the 25 members of the Senate. SB 692 prohibits the sale of sunscreens, unless they carry a warning label and is supported by ten senators.
SB 1150, which is supported by Kalani English and 12 other senators, would prohibit the use of sunscreens containing oxybenzone at beaches. Also banning the use are SB 210 (introduced by 11 senators, including Ruderman) and SB 692 (supported by ten senators). The latter would prohibit the use of harmful sunblocks while in a marine life conservation district. There is no explanation as to how these last two bills would be enforced, were they to become law, or what the cost of patrolling beaches and inspecting sunscreens would be.
To check if a sunscreen has oxybenzone, check the label on the back of the bottle.THE SEA CLIFF AT KAMOKUNA where lava enters the ocean was seen as very unstable Thursday morning when Hawaiian Volcano Observatory issued an Activity Notice, with an Alert Level of Watch and Aviation Color Code Orange:
"Kīlauea Volcano's episode 61g lava flow is still active and entering the ocean at Kamokuna on the volcano's south coast. Recent observations of the ocean entry indicate growing instability of the adjacent sea cliff. Potential collapse of the cliff poses an extreme danger to anyone in the closed area on land, as well as to boats near the ocean entry.
"On January 25, HVO geologists noted an extensive crack running parallel to the sea cliff about 5 - 10 m (16 - 33 ft) behind the stream of lava at the Kamokuna ocean entry. Ground inspection of this crack by HVO geologists on January 28 showed 30 cm (about 1 foot) of separation across the crack. Four days later, on February 1, this crack had widened to about 70 cm (2.5 feet). The seaward block bounded by this crack was visibly moving up to 1 cm (about 1/2 inch), possibly in response to explosions below the ocean entry as hot lava mixed with cool ocean water. In addition, ground shaking could be felt up to several hundred meters (yards) away. "These observations show that this portion of the sea cliff is highly unstable and could collapse into the ocean with no warning.
"Sudden collapse into the ocean of a slab of sea cliff about 28 m (90 ft) high and about 150 m (490 ft) or more in length would create a significant wave that would travel rapidly out to sea. It would also could shower the immediate area with blocks of hot rock and fragments of molten lava. It could also prompt more powerful explosions as the 61g lava tube is further exposed."
When HVO geologists hiked to the Kamokuna ocean entry on Thursday to assess the status of the sea cliff, they found that the "firehose" flow was no longer visible. However, spatter (bits of molten lava) and black sand flying through the steam plume indicated that lava was still flowing into the ocean and interacting explosively with seawater. Just below the left side of the steam cloud, a small shelf of the Kamokuna lava delta that survived the New Year's Eve collapse could be seen.
Within minutes of HVO geologists reaching the ocean entry site, the sea cliff seaward of a hot crack collapsed with no warning, but the geologists were far enough away to be safe.
HVO continues to monitor the situation and will issue further updates as new information becomes available. Photographs of this crack and activity at the ocean entry can be found at https://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/multimedia/
For more information on hazards associated with lava entering the sea, see: https://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2000/fs152-00/
THE ANNUAL KA`U COFFEE FESTIVAL has been set to run through three weekends and one week in May.
The festival begins with the Miss Ka`u Coffee Pageant on Saturday, May 13 at Ka`u Coffee Mill. The kickoff Pa`ina and Open House for the festival is set for Friday, May 19 at Pahala Plantation House. On Saturday, May 20 is the annual Ka`u Coffee Recipe Contest at Ka`u Coffee Mill – recipes invited, followed by Stargazing on Monday, May 22 at Makanao.
On Wednesday and Thursday, May 24 and 25 are two opportunities to go on the Ka`u Mountain Water System Hike on Edmund C. Olson Trust Lands.
On Saturday, May 2 is the main event, the Ka`u Coffee Festival Ho`olaulea at Ka`u Community Center and its surrounding grounds, with coffee tasting, Ka`u Coffee sales, food and educational booths and entertainment all day. On Sunday, May 28 is the Ka`u Coffee College.
Check the website at kaucoffeefest.com for more information and schedule updates.
To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar.
HAM RADIO OPERATORS Potluck Picnic, Sunday, Feb. 5, Manuka Park. All American Radio Emergency Service members, anyone interested in learning how to operate a ham radio and families are invited to attend. Dennis Smith, 989-3028
PU`U O LOKUANA, Sunday, Feb. 5, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m., Kahuku unit of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Participants learn about formation and various uses of this grassy cinder cone and enjoy a breathtaking view of lower Ka‘ū on this free, moderately difficult 0.4-mile hike to the top.