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Bill by Santa Monica Legislator to Tackle Plastic Microfiber Ocean Pollution Clears Key Committee

 

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By Lookout Staff

April 10, 2018 – A bill requiring that all clothing made primarily of polyester include a label warning cleared a key committee in the California legislature Monday, said Santa Monica-area Assembly Member Richard Bloom.

AB 2379, authored by Bloom, would require all clothing made primarily of polyester to include a label warning of plastic microfiber shedding -- the most pervasive polluter of waterways and oceans --
and recommend the clothing be hand washed instead.

It cleared the powerful Assembly Natural Resources Committee on a 6-4 vote.

“Plastic microfibers are making their way from washing machines into our seafood and even into the water we drink,” said Bloom.

“Similar to climate change, the science is staring us in the face, waiting for us to act," the former Santa Monica mayor said. "If we don’t, the problem will only get worse.”

Plastic microfibers are shed from synthetic fabrics such as polyester during regular washing and are tiny enough to slip through filters, ending up in waterways and the ocean, he said.

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Researchers from University of California, Davis, sampled fish and shellfish sold at local California fish markets and found a quarter of fish and a third of shellfish contained plastic debris, most of it microfibers.

According to Californians Against Waste, a recent survey that compared 150 tap water samples from locations in five continents found microscopic plastic fibers in nearly every sample, with 94 percent of the United States water samples containing plastic microfibers.

This raises an important question about the human health consequences that plastic microfibers can have on people who unknowingly consume them, experts said.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s 2014 report on the future of plastics estimated that the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050.

“This bill will educate the public so that they can do their part in stemming this alarming environmental and public health discovery,” added Bloom.

Bloom also authored the 2015 landmark California plastic microbead ban that was eventually applied nationally a year later through federal legislation signed by President Obama.

The current bill is co-authored by Assembly Members Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D-San Diego) and Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) and supported by Californians Against Waste and the Story of Stuff.

The bill will now head to the Assembly Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials.

 


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