Washing machines in California may need to include a new filter system if AB 1952 becomes law.
Assembly Bill 1952, authored by Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), would require a new microfiber filter system in all state owned and operated washing machines. All washing machines would need to have a filter installed by January 1, 2022, and the passed bill would potentially lead to new privately owned washers.
Assemblyman Stone has been behind the bill largely because of the environmental implications. While the tiny plastic microfibers have not been conclusively linked to any health or environmental issues so far, there has been growing evidence that they have been a factor in pollution and other damaging environmental concerns. Microfiber impact on human health has also been a growing concern.
“There’s been nothing conclusive, but we’re starting to see a lot of smaller issues pop up because of more and more microfibers,” explained researcher Dr. John Mullins. “We’ve seen what harder plastic has done to marine life over the years, and synthetic fibers, microfibers, have appeared in some specimens.”
“It’s also getting more noticeable to humans, at least as an irritant. More and more people have been reporting to ophthalmologists we’ve talked with about ‘floaty bits’ in their eyes, specifically things that look like little zig-zags. These are microfibers.”
“There’s a lot of other little examples, but the point is that it’s beginning to track.”
“I think that putting on a cheap filter to stop these from going out into the sea is a great idea. We can stop this problem early, at least in the water.”
Assemblyman Stone also spoke out about the issue, making it clear why he was pushing for AB 1952 to pass.
“California must continue to lead in plastic pollution reduction,” said Stone. “This is an effective way to reduce millions of microfibers from ending up in our ecosystems and in the items that we consume.”
Many environmental groups have come out in support of the bill, most notably ocean and shore conservancy groups who have been warning about microfiber dangers for years.
No opposition to the bill has yet formed. While there are indications that the bill will have bipartisanship support, concerns over stopping an issue that doesn’t have any credible reports of harm against humans or the environment may be called up. Concerns over the cost of the new filters, which go unaddressed in the bill, is also likely to be a possible point of contention in the coming months.
AB 1952 is currently going to Assembly Committees for votes. The bill will need to pass through the Assembly Committees by April 24th if it is to move on to an Assembly vote.