This Is Why Key West Is Banning Sunscreen

Don’t worry, it’s only a few types that contain toxic chemicals.

Key West coral reef
The city of Key West, Florida has banned certain sunblocks that contain harmful chemicals that could destroy the area's coral reefs. (Photo by USGS/NASA Landsat/Orbital Horizon/Gallo Images/ Getty Images)
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If you’re heading to Key West you should be sure to leave your sunblock at home- at least the brands that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate.

The Key West City Commission recently voted to ban sunscreens that contain the toxic chemicals.

“To me, this is a pretty black-and-white issue,” Key West Mayor Teri Johnston said. “There are thousands of sunscreens out there, and we have one reef. And we have an opportunity to do one small thing to protect that. I believe it’s our obligation.”

The new rule comes as efforts to protect the coral reefs in the Florida Keys area. The chemicals we lather on to protect us from the sun’s harmful rays often wash off in the water while we swim and can be devastating to the coral reefs that come into contact with the toxic lotion.

Fan favorite brands like Hawaiian Tropic and Banana Boat are banned, unless you can find a product from one of those companies that doesn’t include either of those chemicals.

The Key West mayor said “it’s the right thing to do,” The Washington Post reports.

“I hope it will make consumers more aware and responsible for their actions,” Johnston told The Washington Post. She wants folks to “flip over their sunscreens and look at the ingredients and make wise choices for themselves and their families.”

Last year Hawaii passed similar legislation that banned skin-care companies from selling and/or distributing their products on the island if they contained oxybenzone and octinoxate.

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