WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Sen. Tom Udall and U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D- Calif.) have called on President Trump to immediately mobilize the federal government to address the significant threat that mismanaged plastic waste poses to human health, public budgets, and to the sustainability of our waterways, oceans, and entire planet.
Pointing out the urgency of dealing with the crisis, the lawmakers write, “Approximately eight million tons of plastic makes its way into the oceans annually, and this number is expected to double by 2030.”
This plastic waste, mainly in the form of single-use packaging, is not only presenting a pollution problem on coastlines, waterways, and the open ocean, but it is accumulating in greater and greater concentration at a nanoparticle level in sea life. Plastic recycling, particularly single use plastic, is often uneconomic and its disposal is a growing burden on state and local taxpayers across the U.S.
“The absorption of toxic chemicals from ingested nanoplastics,” the lawmakers said, “could then be passed onto humans that consume fish or shellfish. This concern isn’t limited to seafood and other sources of wildlife that humans consume. Recent studies have found that 90 percent of all table salt contains microplastics. The bioaccumulation of chemical toxins from plastics that threaten human health requires an urgent response by the United States.”
“We believe that a well-coordinated and well-funded interagency research plan, coupled with robust investments in our response programs, is essential to address the domestic and global plastic pollution crisis at both a human health level and at an ocean conservation level,” said the lawmakers and conclude that they are urging the president to, “…acknowledge and address the ‘end of life’ challenges that exist with plastic products and packaging, and prioritize the scientific research and actionable information needed to inform policy solutions. We recommend that departments and agencies across the federal government develop a coordinated interagency research and response plan to address this growing problem. By taking immediate action now, the United States can make progress toward mitigating this threat to the health and well-being of all Americans.”