At the beginning of February, city officials in Key West voted 6-1 to ban sunscreens containing oxybenzone and octinoxate, two chemicals scientists say lead to bleaching, DNA damage, and the death of the corals. The vote came after an hour of public comment, with almost every speaker supporting the ban.1


This ban will take effect on Jan. 1st, 2021. (Hawaii has also banned the sale and distribution of similar sunscreens, beginning in 2021.)

It’s about time.

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

Mill McCleary, executive program director of nonprofit Reef Relief, said,

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


  1. USA Today