Please use your muscle to protect our mussels!

Posted on Feb 3, 2015

Mussel image by Ashley, all rights reserved.

Mussel image by Ashley, all rights reserved.

Friends of Casco Bay is needs your muscle—in the form of emails, phone calls, or in person testimony—to protect our mussels from plastic microbeads.

Shellfish populations here in Casco Bay are already suffering from the effects of ocean acidification, temperature changes, and green crab predation. Here is another: microbeads.

There is a bill that will go before the Maine Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on Wednesday, February 4ththis Wednesday—to eliminate this toxic source of plastics pollution, protect our coastal ecosystems, and indeed, our seafood.

The problem: Microbeads are tiny synthetic plastic particles used as abrasives and cleansers in many personal-care and beauty products, such as cosmetics, facial scrubs, shaving creams, soaps, gels, and toothpastes. Their spherical shapes create their lubrication effect, and often their colors are used to enhance visual appeal.  These tiny plastic particles in personal care products are designed to be washed away. But they don’t go “away.”

 Microbeads, which are tiny—10 to 100 times smaller than a grain of sand!—are washed down the drain and through our wastewater treatment plants, unfiltered, into streams and rivers and ultimately into our coastal waters, where they contribute to an already widespread problem of plastics pollution and contamination. Microbeads have been found in sediments as well as in waters around the globe. They can be ingested by marine life and become part of the food chain.

Researchers have found that microplastics are ingested and stored in the flesh of blue mussels and oysters. It has been calculated that Europeans who eat these shellfish consume about 11,000 microplastics per year.

 

The Solution: Help Us Pass LD 85, A Bill to Phase-out Mircobeads

Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, The Body Shop, Proctor & Gamble, Target, Crest, Colgate Palmolive are just a few of the many companies that have either already eliminated microbeads from their products, or have committed to a phase-out timeline. This is what is proposed in LD 85, “An Act to Prohibit Synthetic Plastic Microbeads in Personal Care Products and Over-the-counter Drugs.” There is too much at stake for us in Maine to wait for industry to decide this issue, one company at a time.

Microbeads are a threat to the health of Casco Bay, and viable alternatives exist. Alternatives include salts, sugars, ground nut shells, apricot pits, cocoa beans, and oatmeal, to name a few.

 

Since more than 20 % of Maine’s population lives in the Casco Bay watershed, we are likely already experiencing a concentrated pulse of microbeads into our waters. We have important ecological and economic resources to protect. Please help by contacting the Environment and Natural Resources Committee to urge them to recommend passage of LD 85, “An Act to Prohibit Synthetic Plastic Microbeads in Personal Care Products and Over-the-counter Drugs.”

 

Use your muscle:

Please email a message, call, or come testify along with Friends of Casco Bay’s Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell on Wednesday, February 4 at 1:00 pm in the Cross Building, Room 216, Augusta[The Cross Building is directly behind the State House].

Email: The Chairs of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources are Senator Tom Saviello [drtom16 [at] hotmail [dot] com] and Representative Joan Welch [Joan [dot] Welsh [at] legislature [dot] maine [dot] gov]

 Call:    Senator Tom Saviello’s office: (207) 287-1505

              Representative Joan Welch’s office: (800) 423-2900

 

Talking points:

I urge you and the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources to recommend passage of LD 85, “An Act to Prohibit Synthetic Plastic Microbeads in Personal Care Products and Over-the-counter Drugs,” because:

  • Microbeads persist in the environment.
  • Microbeads are too small to be removed by sewage treatment facilities.
  • Microplastics are a threat to the health of the Bay, as research shows they become concentrated in mussels and oysters.
  • Safer alternatives exist.
  • Some personal care businesses are already eliminating Microbeads in favor of natural abrasives. Maine can be a leader in doing the same in order to ensure that our citizens have access to the new, improved products.
  • There is too much at stake for us in Maine to wait for industry to decide this issue, one company at a time.

Friends of Casco Bay’s testimony can be read here.

Mussel image by Ashley, all rights reserved.