Elected officials call on U.S. president to mobilize federal government to address plastic threat

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Congressmember Alan Lowenthal, who represents California’s 47th congressional district, and New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall are calling on President Donald Trump to mobilize the federal government to address the “threat that mismanaged plastic waste poses to human health, public budgets and to the sustainability of our waterways, oceans, and entire planet,” per a June 5 press release submitted by Lowenthal’s office.

In a public letter to the president, the members described the “urgency” of dealing with the issue, writing that, “Approximately 8 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, the letter argues, but it is accumulating in greater and greater concentration at a nanoparticle level in sea life.

“The absorption of toxic chemicals from ingested nanoplastics,” the letter reads, “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.”

The members conclude by 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.”

To read the full letter by Lowenthal and Udall, visit bit.ly/2JW2vTm.