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Health & Science

Ban on Microbeads is a Big Step in Fighting Plastic Pollution

Sherri Mason
JEFF ST.CLAIR
/
WKSU

President Barack Obama has signed a ban on products containing microbeads. The tiny pieces of plastic found in facial scrubs and other products have been found in high concentrations in Lake Erie and other waterways.

Sherri Mason, a researcher at the State University of New York, discovered Lake Erie’s microbead pollution in 2012.

She’s now concerned about another non-biodegradable material that’s finding its way into the Great Lakes food chain.  Mason says her fleece jacket and other synthetic fibers are also major sources of pollution. 

“And every time I wash this jacket, at a minimum 2,000 fibers are going to break off this jacket go down in the wastewater and again be released just like our microbeads," says Mason, "and increasingly we’re seeing these microfibers.”

Mason says high concentrations of microfibers pass through waste treatment plants and end up in Lake Erie.

The ban on plastic microbeads signed last week by president Obama goes into effect in 2018.

Fleece Jacket
Credit File photo
Synthetic fibers from fleece jackets are finding their way into Lake Erie and into the food chain, according to Sherri Mason at SUNY.