Businesses won’t get more time to ditch toxic sunscreen

Proponents of a toxic sunscreen ban are applauding Gov. Albert Bryan Jr., who on Friday vetoed an amendment that would have given businesses an additional three months to rid their shelves of the eco-unfriendly products.

According to Act 8185, which Bryan signed in July, stores were immediately mandated to cease ordering new inventory of sunscreen containing oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene. In addition, they were required to deplete any previously ordered inventory within the next eight months — or until March of this year.

Last month, Sen. Marvin Blyden, who sponsored the sunscreen bill, introduced an amendment to extend this time period from March to July, as a way to give businesses more time to adjust.

to ditch toxic sunscreen

The Senate unanimously passed the amendment as a non-germane measure to Bill 33-0190, which dealt with the V.I. Housing Finance Authority.

Harith Wickrema, president of Island Green Living Association, who helped spearhead the toxic sunscreen ban, said the extension was unnecessary and that businesses should abide with the original timetable.

“Maintaining the March 30 date is a huge victory for the environment and to the people of Virgin Islands,” he said in a statement. “We are grateful that [Bryan] did not bend to special interests but instead put protecting human and coral health rst.”

Blyden declined to comment on the veto. However, his oce indicated that the veto was “unfortunate” since the amendment gave businesses a more realistic time period to adapt, comparable to other jurisdictions going through a similar transition.

The toxic sunscreen ban stops the importation, sale and distribution of sunscreen containing oxybenzone, octinoxate and octocrylene, three ingredients that are scientifically linked to coral and marine life damage, as well as hormone disruptions in humans.

The addition of octocrylene means the law goes further than any similar ban in the country. And with the full ban taking effect on March 30, the law beats out similar bans planned in Hawaii and Key West, Fla.

The ban also makes safer mineral-based sunscreen with active ingredients of zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide the default choice.

“President [Bill] Clinton, who drew attention to this issue when he was in the territory last summer for the CGI Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery, reiterated his support of the measure to me during the Action Network event in Puerto Rico this week and his willingness to help the eort to build awareness,” Wickrema said. “Island Green is eager to help fund education as well. Now it is up to our commissioner of tourism to act on what has been presented on a silver platter to ensure visitor education is included in tourism marketing.”

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