Thailand Bans Sunscreen

The Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation has announced that sunscreen products containing chemicals that are harmful to coral have been banned from all Thai national marine parks.

Main picture credit Skeyndor on flickr

The hugely popular marine parks attract large numbers of divers and snorkellers each year, but fears of the damage caused by harmful chemicals on the fragile, slow growing, coral has led to the move.

Orangutan Crab in coral credit Lakshimi Sawitri on flickr

Thailand is not the first marine location to announce a ban, the Pacific island of Palau and the US state of Hawaii have both previously announced similar bans.

“Studies have found that several chemical compounds in sunscreen products are harmful to coral larvae, affecting their reproductive systems and causing coral bleaching.

As 80% to 90% of tourists visiting marine national parks on package tours usually go diving, marine national park staff will ask tour operators to explain to visitors the ban ahead of their visits.”

Thanya Nethithammakul, Director-General Thai Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation

The prohibited chemical compounds are:

  • Oxybenzone (Benzophenone-3, BP-3),
  • Octinoxate (Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate),
  • 4-Methylbenzylid Camphor (4MBC)
  • Butylparaben
Clownfish in coral credit Rickard Zerpe on flickr

It is not clear how strict officials will be on enforcing fines which are up to a maximum of 100,000 baht (approx £2,166 / US$3,013).

It is believed that park officials will take away banned products on entry to the national park and return them on exit.

Alternate products using zinc oxide are now recommended to visitors.

Thailand has made a number of attempts to preserve the marine environment, the most notable being the closure of Maya Bay to tourists after extensive damage was caused by tourists.

Source: BBC & Bangkok Post

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