By Theodore Nichols, NEOSC Water Committee Chair
Many of us are aware and concerned about the plastic microbeads found in personal care products such as skin exfoliants and soap that easily slip through most water treatment systems and end up in rivers, lakes and ultimately, the oceans. These microbeads are about the same size as fish eggs and appear much like fish food to many species of fish. Microbeads soak up toxins such as PCBs which are then concentrated in the fish which are passed up the food chain to other wildlife and those of us that eat fish! This problem is impacting the Great Lakes in particular. A report by the State University of New York in Fredonia detailed concentrations of microbeads anywhere from 1500 to 1.1 million per square mile in the Great Lakes. Something needs to be done!
Federal legislation titled the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 has been introduced in both the House and Senate. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Fred Upton (R-Mich) submitted this legislation in the House on 3/4/15; Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich) and Gary Peters (D-Mich) co-sponsored the legislation in the Senate which was introduced 5/21/15. The bills specifically prohibit the sale or distribution of cosmetics containing synthetic plastic microbeads. Both bills have been referred to appropriate committees for study and have not been brought to the full House or Senate for a vote at this time.
Please contact your US representative and US senators regarding your support for this needed legislation. Both Ohio senators (Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman) have co-sponsored the legislation since its introduction.