New Democrats call for action to end microbead pollution

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VANCOUVER— New Democrats are calling on the B.C. Liberal government to protect the health of our oceans, lakes and rivers by banning the sale of products containing plastic microbeads.

“British Columbians I talk to are surprised to learn that they may be unknowingly polluting our lakes, rivers, and ocean by buying and using skin creams, toothpaste, and more that contain tiny plastic microbeads which then wash down the drain and into our water,” said New Democrat environment spokesperson Spencer Chandra Herbert.

“Scientists are sounding the alarm about the effect that these plastic microbeads are having on our ocean and fish, which is why I am calling on the B.C. Liberal government to step in and stop the sale of these polluting products.”

Dr. Peter Ross of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Pollution Science Program recently co-authored a study which found as many as 7,630 microbeads in just a cubic metre of our coastal waters.

As Matthew Unger, chair of Surfrider Foundation Vancouver, explains, banning microbeads isn’t just important for the environment, but for human health.

“Microbeads pass through wastewater and sewage treatment plants and enter the ocean where they are ingested by marine life. The toxins and plastic particles make their way back up the food chain and onto our dinner plates. This is a dangerous cycle that will affect human health,” said Unger.

The state of Illinois recently banned the manufacture and sale of products containing microbeads due to concerns over the impact they are having on the Great Lakes. Even Unilever, one of the largest producers of these products, has agreed to phase them out by 2015.

However, given that many companies have not made that commitment, Chandra Herbert has written a letter to the B.C. Liberal government asking them to ban the sale of products containing microbeads.

“Governments in other jurisdictions are taking action to keep these polluting products off store shelves – and the B.C. government should be doing the same,” said Chandra Herbert. “No one wants to eat plastic, so why are we making our fish do just that?”