Tuesday, October 13, 2015

California Bans Microplastic

Fish, seabirds and other marine life are ingesting it by the tons, threatening their survival. Microplastic beads used in numerous consumer product processes are a little know source of toxic pollution, but California is leading the nation again by banning most uses of the substance. From toothpaste to cleaning scrubs the micro-sized pellets are becoming ubiquitous in the world's seas rinsed down the drain by unconscious consumers. Their micron size often allows micro beads to escape filtration at waste treatment facilities. They attract chemicals to their ionized surfaces such as PCBs and flame retardants. AB 888 was crafted by Assembly Member Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) to avoid the loopholes that exist in other state's regulations of microplastics. California's ban extends to microbeads that are supposedly made of biodegradable plastic, but the industry will have to prove these form of beads are safe for the environment. Two companies, Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble were citied as fighting the legislation at every step of the process. Watch this video to learn more about the stuff:

Five Gyres Institute, a leading research group studying the problem of plastic pollution in the oceans discovered as many as 466,000 microplastics per square kilometer in the Great Lakes. The institute estimates 471 million microbeads are dumped into San Francisco Bay every day. These beads are added to facial scrubs, toothpastes and and other personal care products as exfoliants or colorants to the extent f 350,000 beads per product. What is more important is that the effects these artificial additives achieve can be accomplished with natural products such as apricot shells and cocoa beans. To the see what plastics in general are doing to the world's marine environments watch this video from Australian Broadcast Company: