Microplastics and Our Marine Life
by libbygeorge123 on November 25, 2016 - 12:59pm
John Vidal writes in the “The Guardian” about how microplastics should be banned to save the world’s oceans. A group of MP’s on the United Kingdom’s Environmental Audit Committee address the microplastics problem and the need for microbeads to be banned. Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic found in the ocean due to the breaking down of larger plastic debris, small synthetic fibres from clothing, or microbeads used in cosmetics.
Committee chair Mary Creagh comments that a single shower could result in 100,000 particles entering the ocean, and that a full legal ban at the international level is needed to combat the pollutant. Vidal writes that many of the large cosmetic companies made commitments to phase out microbeads by 2020, but the committee felt that a national ban starting in 18 months would have the advantage of consistency for consumers and the industry. Microbeads are a large part of the microplastics issue, because they can be ingested by marine life and transfer other chemical pollutants through the food chain. An estimated 15-51 tons of microplastic particles have already polluted our oceans. They can be found on shorelines, the ocean surface, sea sediments, and arctic ice. The environmental audit committee urgently calls for research because little has been done on the potential impacts of these beads to human and marine health.
I agree with Mary Creagh that international bans are needed to combat the pollutant. Microbeads are part of the overall microplastics problem that we can control by shutting down the source. States should exercise their legislative power to control the material practices of the cosmetics industry by passing bills to ban these products. Fortunately, this is already occurring in some parts of the world including the USA and UK (Janssen, 2016) (Vidal, 2016).
The state also needs to address management of marine life. Vidal states that the environmental audit committee of the UK calls for more research on the effects of the beads on marine and human life. Not only should more research be done, but monitoring systems should be put in place to monitor microbead presence and the presence of associated chemicals in marine life. Public participation such as citizen scientists and volunteers could be used to start a worldwide monitoring network, in which fish and microbeads of different areas are monitored for contamination. This would help increase the knowledge and variety of data on the subject of microbeads as pollutants with implications of balancing the decisions of environmental and fishery managers in the future. If microbeads prove to have significant bioaccumulation in the food chain with negative effects on human health, fishery managers will be faced with some difficult decisions and the monitoring of fish population health will become an important factor in the fishing industry in the future.
Janssen, H. (2016, January 8). Obama signs law banning environmentally damaging microbeads. AccuWeather.com. http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/microbeads-ban-2017-new-law-o...
Vidal, J. (2016, August 24). Microplastics should be banned in cosmetics to save oceans, MP’s say. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/24/microplastics-ban-in...