Assembly Committee Holds Hearing on Microplastic Pollution in Water, Environment

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – The Assembly Environmental Safety & Toxic Materials Committee, chaired by Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), hosted a hearing on microplastics titled “Microplastics in our Water and Environment: Understanding a Growing Pollution Source.” This informational hearing brought together scientists from California, Canada and Europe, who shared their latest research on microplastics and how they are affecting our water, environment, and human health.

Plastics, and their microparticle offspring, known as microplastics, are prevalent nearly everywhere, including in our homes, workplaces, bodies, drinking water, and environment.
The intake of microplastics by humans is by now evident, as studies have found microplastics in drinking water, air, salt, honey, and other food sources. The ubiquity of plastics creates unprecedented challenges to regulators, engineers, and scientists as they grapple with this potential human health threat and environmental pollution source.
“Plastics are a part of our everyday life in almost every way; from grocery bags to zip-lock bags, from band-aids to pharmaceuticals, from food packaging to the takeout packaging restaurants are relying on to survive this pandemic. Consumers rely on, use, and dispose of plastics at a remarkable rate,” explained Assemblymember Quirk. microplastics in the ocean
Highlights from the hearing include:
  • The ubiquity of microplastics cannot be underscored. 
  • More than 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters our oceans annually. The United States is the top plastic waste generator globally, and ranks 20th out of 192 counties when it comes to plastic waste contributions to the oceans. 
  • Seven trillion microplastics flow into the San Francisco Bay via stormwater ANNUALLY.  
  • Beyond surface water, microplastics are found on agricultural lands where wastewater sludge is applied. Plants have been found to uptake micro and nano plastics, and those microplastics are shown to stunt plant development and crop growth. In short, microplastics pollution can pose a food security threat. 
  • Humans are likely inhaling microplastics because they’re carried in wind and weather patterns.
  • Four out of six placentas have been found to have microplastics. 
“The information shared by renowned scientists was scarier than I could have imagined. We cannot recycle our way out of this problem. Source reduction and zero waste policies are our best tactics for reducing microplastic pollution. Plastics will never just ‘go away’,” stated Assemblymember Quirk.