Thailand bans tourists from using sunscreen at marine parks

14 September 2021
To protect coral reefs, the Thai Government has enacted a law banning tourists from using sunscreen in all marine national parks.

A law banning visitors from using sunscreen at all national marine parks in Thailand has taken effect since August 4th. Everyone, including visitors and locals who break the law will face a fine of up to 100,000 baht (approximately $3,022).

The Thai Government decided to enact the law due to the harmful effects of sunscreens, which contain oxybenzone, octinoxate, 4-methylbenzyl and butylparaben, on coral. These sunscreens are often used by tourists when going to the beach. These substances are suspected to be endocrine disruptors and cause bad affection on coral’s growth, even in small amounts. In addition, several studies have confirmed that common chemical UV filters found in sunscreens and cosmetics have a negative impact on marine life, especially young coral reefs.

Chemical UV filters have negative impact on coral reefs
Coral reefs under negative impact of chemical UV filters in cosmetic

Coral is a living and slow-growing organism. Their max growth rate is just 2 cm per year for massive corals. That means the reefs we see when scuba diving today could have been formed over thousands, hundred thousands of years. If coral reefs are badly affected by harmful sunscreen chemicals along with climate change and environmental pollution, they may stop growing or even die.

Scientists estimate that half of the world's coral reefs have been killed in the past 30 years and if there is no action from humans, 90% will disappear within the next century. With a slow growth rate, the beauty of coral reefs in Thailand will totally disappear in a few hundred more generations without proactive conservation.

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