Attorney General Ton leads 16 states in warning against rampant plastic microfiber pollution

press release

Attorney General William Tong


Attorney General Ton raises alarm over widespread plastic microfiber pollution, calls on EPA to protect public health and ocean safety

Endocrine disruptors in plastic linked to cancer, infertility, diabetes, obesity, asthma and autism

(Hartford, Conn.) – In a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today, Attorney General William Tong led 16 states to warn against the prevalence of plastic microfiber pollution and to urge the EPA and I urged NOAA to make the most of it. Respect their authority to protect public health and maritime safety.

Synthetic clothing loses tiny plastic fibers called microfibers when washed. It is estimated that approximately 640,000 to 1,500,000 plastic microfiber pieces are shed per wash. An estimated 878 tonnes of microfibers pollute the aquatic environment each year in the United States and Canada. Globally, it is estimated that the average person consumes a credit card’s worth of plastic each week, due to the unavoidable concentration of plastic microfibers in the world’s water.

Plastic microfibers shed from synthetic clothing during the washing cycle are now the leading source of microplastic pollution in the world’s water. We have identified these plastics in seafood sold for human consumption in the United States and in the most remote oceans such as the Arctic, Antarctic and the Mariana Trench.

These microfibers can act as endocrine disruptors. Studies have linked the consumption and inhalation of microplastics and microfibers to hormonal cancers, reproductive disorders such as infertility, metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity, asthma, and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. There is a nature.

Simple techniques already exist and are needed in other countries to capture and filter plastic microfibers in the wash cycle before they enter waterways. It has been shown to successfully filter up to 75% of microplastics.

“Plastic microfibers are pervasive, toxic pollutants that can cause serious harm to human health and the environment. Simple technologies exist and are already needed abroad to trap these plastics. We call on EPA and NOAA to follow their own investigations and use their authority to the fullest to protect public health and maritime safety.” Attorney General Ton said.

EPA is aware of this issue and potential solutions. In its 2020 report, “What You Need to Know About Microfiber Pollution,” the EPA highlights plastic microfibers in synthetic clothing as a “leading source of plastic pollution,” including “toxic chemicals,” and aquatic life. pointing out the harm to The EPA further notes that a microfiber filtration system installed in washing machines can prevent a significant portion of microfibers from entering and contaminating waterways and the environment. Additionally, in 2023, the EPA will issue a draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution. This strategy recognizes the problem of plastic microfibers and the need to fund further research into microfiber capture technologies, including washing machine microfiber filtration systems.

Global awareness of this pervasive pollutant is growing, and several countries are implementing or considering similar regulations. The United States should lead the way in this area and take concrete steps to address the plastic problem.

The EPA has already recognized the importance of using washing machine filters in addressing the serious problem of microfibers. Now is the time for agencies to act on their own recommendations. Specifically, the Attorney General urged EPA and NOAA to assess their authority under the Clean Water Act to regulate microfiber pollution, and the environmental and human health hazards caused by microfibers; I request that you direct specific funding and research into washing machine technology solutions.

Joining Attorney General Ton in today’s letter are Attorneys General of California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. is.

Assistant Attorney General Kaela Smith and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Matthew Levine, Chief of the Environment Division, assisted the Attorney General in this matter.

Click here to view the letter.

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Elizabeth Benton

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