USVI Implements Historic Toxic Sunscreen Ban

The US Virgin Islands are leading the way with new legislation aimed at saving the environment.

It’s all to protect our local coral reefs, marine life, and also the health and safety of the people who live and visit the US Territory.

The Virgin Islands’ landmark “Toxic 3 O’s” sunscreen ban is now in effect. It went into effect on Monday, March 31th, making the US Territory the first in the nation to ban toxic sunscreen chemicals which damage coral reefs, harm marine life, and pose health risks to humans.

The sunscreen ban legislation prohibits the sale, importation and distribution of sunscreens which contains Oxybenzone, Octocrylene, and Octinoxate.

Chemicals which wash off people’s bodies when they swim in the beautiful waters surrounding the Virgin Islands, in turn, according to scientific evidence, damaging coral reefs and killing marine life.

The good news, once the chemicals are out of the water, the coral can rejuvenate.

The toxic chemicals have also been linked to human cell damage, cancer, and disruption of hormones.

Those are the reasons why this legislation was created, to get stores to pull the toxic sunscreen of their shelves and replace it with the more than 250 brands of sunscreen which meet the safer criteria.

Hawaii and Key West, Florida have passed similar legislation which will go into effect in January of 2021.

USVI News caught up with Harith Wickrema, President of the non-profit Island Green Living Association, one of the various groups critical in making this law a reality, “We, being a tourism based economy, if we kill our marine life and coral, we’re not going to have tourists come and spend their money here. So it is vital to our economy, vital to our environment, and to preservation of marine life.”

Businesses should have cleared their shelves of the toxic sunscreens, Wickrema says most have complied, as they’ve been talking about this legislation for at least three years.

US Customs and Border Patrol will not allow the importation of the toxic sunscreens into the territory.

Residents who have contaminated sunscreen are asked to throw them out.

An education system will notify tourists of the new rules now in effect, through airlines, hotels, and signs at the airport.

Click here to read the full legislation.