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Santa Monica Lawmaker Tackles Microfibers

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By Lookout Staff

February 15, 2018 -- Under a bill introduced this week by Santa Monica State Rep. Richard Bloom, warning labels would be required on synthetic fabrics that shed tiny fibers when washed.

The former Santa Monica mayor's bill -- AB 2379 -- would tackle "the most pervasive, but least talked about, type of plastic pollution: plastic microfibers," his office said.

"Plastic microfibers shed from synthetic fabrics during regular washing, and because these tiny plastic fibers are small enough to get past filters, they’re ending up in waterways and the ocean," Blooms office said in a statement Wednesday.

The bill requires a label on all clothing made primarily of polyester warning of plastic microfiber shedding and recommending handwashing the item to reduce the impact.

“This issue cannot wait,” Bloom said. “Plastic microfibers are making their way from washing machines into our seafood and even into the water we drink.”

Bloom authored a 2015 a plastic microbead ban in California that served as a model for federal legislation approved the following year, his office said ("Santa Monica Lawmaker's Bill to Ban Microbeads Clears Legislature," September 8, 2015).

Research by the University of California found that a quarter of fish and a third of shellfish sampled at local California fish markets contained plastic debris, mostly from microfibers, Bloom said.

Microfibers also were found to be prevalent in tap water samples from five continents, with 94 percent the U.S. samples containing the fibers.

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

A 2014 report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that the world’s oceans will contain more plastic than fish by 2050, according to Bloom's staff.

Said Melissa Romero, Policy Associate at Californians Against Waste, “Manufacturers can’t continue to stick the public with the economic and health costs of cleaning up the products they produce, and consumers shouldn’t have to worry about eating or drinking plastic,”

Assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) are coauthoring the bill.


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