Ocean Pollution

Thailand bans coral-damaging sunscreens

Written by Oceanographic staff

Thailand bans coral-damaging sunscreens from all of its marine parks to help reduce the footprint of millions of tourists visiting the country’s beaches each year.

Sunscreens have long been known to damage corals. The chemicals found in these products “deteriorate coral reefs, destroy larvae, obstruct their reproductive system and cause coral reef bleaching,” according to the announcement by Thailand’s Department of National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, quoted by science news portal Phys.org.

Banned lotions include those that contain the chemicals oxybenzone, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor or butylparaben. People that are found using a sun lotion that contains one or more of these chemicals, can get a fine of 100,000 baht or around £2,100. It is still unclear how this sunscreen ban will be enforced.

Similar sunscreen bans already took effect in Hawaii, Palau, the US Virgin Islands and Aruba.

Thailand’s move to ban coral-damaging suncreens comes after the country made headlines for the closure of Maya Bay on the island of Phi Phi Leh – a location made famous by the film The Beach. After years of immense traffic, the tourist attraction has been closed since 2018 to revive the area’s destroyed coral habitats.

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