Join the California Latino Legislative Caucus and Monterey Bay Aquarium for a science-policy briefing at the State Capitol Building.
Plastic pollution in California’s ocean, rivers and lakes impacts wildlife and habitats, as well as the health and economies of local communities. California has become a national leader in understanding and addressing this multi-faceted challenge, but there is still more we can do to prevent plastic pollution in our state and beyond. In addition, statewide polls show that plastic pollution is an important issue for constituencies across the state. At the briefing, expert panelists will present the latest science, economic information, and community-based efforts to help keep California at the forefront of driving effective solutions.
Expert panel insights include:
- Global scope of sources — Dr. Roland Geyer, Associate Professor, University of Santa Barbara
- Microplastics in SF Bay — Dr. Rebecca Sutton, Senior Scientist, San Francisco Estuary Institute
- Food web and human health — Dr. Eunha Hoh, Associate Professor, San Diego State University
- Economics — Anna-Marie Cook, Marine Debris Program Coordinator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region 9)
- Community action — Dr. Serge Dedina, Mayor of Imperial Beach, CA, Executive Director, WILDCOAST
Related Projects, News, and Events:
The RMP has conducted initial studies of microplastic pollution in San Francisco Bay. Findings from a 2015 screening-level RMP study of microplastic pollution in our Bay show widespread contamination at levels greater than other U.S. water bodies with high levels of urban development, the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. Wildlife consume microplastic particles; ingestion can lead to physical harm, and can expose aquatic organisms to pollutants like PCBs that the plastics have absorbed from the surrounding environment.
December's issue of Estuary News features an article, "Unhealthy Fiber in Bay Diet," that highlights the surprising result of a preliminary study of Bay microplastic pollution, which suggested that San Francisco Bay has higher levels of microplastic than other major urban waterbodies in the US for which data are available. Using nets and sieves designed to capture very small particles, scientists with the Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay filtered samples of Bay surface water and wastewater treatment plant effluent.
Rebecca Sutton, senior scientist at SFEI, describes the hazards presented by microplastics in the Bay's waters. "Plastic pollution: Billions of pieces of tiny plastic litter found in San Francisco Bay," a news article by Paul Rogers reports on findings in a recently published study for which Rebecca Sutton serves as lead author. What the researchers discovered, the high degree of plastic contamination, surprised them.
Last week, the Governor signed AB 888, a bill that bans microplastic beads in personal care products. Companies have until 2020 to phase out the use of these "microbeads." California now has strongest state law in the nation on this issue.
SFEI science played a key role in informing policymakers about microbeads and microplastic pollution. Media stories on a Regional Monitoring Program study of microplastics in San Francisco Bay water and treated wastewater broadcast the latest findings to a wide audience. The study indicated that our Bay had higher levels of microplastic pollution than the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay. Clearly identifiable microbeads derived from personal care products were detected at all nine sites examined in San Francisco Bay.