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If you plan on visiting the Pacific island nation of Palau, you’re gonna have to find another way to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays if you use certain sunscreens. Veuer’s Mercer Morrison has the story.
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KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — City officials in Key West voted to ban sunscreens containing two ingredients that scientists have said are harmful to the coral reef ecosystem.

In a 6-1 vote Tuesday, the Key West City Commission banned the sale of sunscreens using oxybenzone and octinoxate beginning on Jan. 1, 2021.

Key West isn’t the first: Pacific island Palau is banning many sunscreens to help protect coral reefs

Mayor Teri Johnston said it’s the commission’s “obligation” to protect the reef, which is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental U.S.

Researchers say the chemicals lead to bleaching, DNA damage and death of the corals.

The vote followed an hour of public comment, with almost every speaker supporting the ban.

Commissioner Greg Davila dissented, saying residents should have the choice of sunscreens they want to use.

Last year, Hawaii banned sale and distribution of similar sunscreens beginning in 2021.

“By banning these chemicals, we hope to not only see better water quality and healthier corals in Key West but, to also see visitors and community members become more aware of the countless stressors humans put on our fragile coral reef ecosystem,” Mill McCleary, executive program director of nonprofit Reef Relief, said.

“Reef Relief has already began creating educational material to help the city of Key West learn about safer sunscreen alternatives,” he added.

Contributing: David Oliver, USA TODAY

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