Illinois bans microbeads; other states may follow

Atlantic Salmon. Photo via Eric Kilby; Flickr
Atlantic Salmon. Photo via Eric Kilby; Flickr

Illinois has become the first state in the nation to ban microbeads, the small plastic particles found in many soaps and skin care products.

Recent research found that most microbeads are too small to be detected by water filtration systems. This allows them to reach lakes and rivers, where they attract pollutants in the surrounding water. They are then consumed by fish, who confuse the plastic beads with fish eggs. If these fish are then consumed by humans or other wildlife, the toxins are able to spread throughout the food chain.

Researcher Sherri Mason found up to one million of the tiny pellets per square kilometer in areas of the Great Lakes.

Illinois is requiring manufacturers to phase out microbeads by the end of 2017. Some companies are already investigating biodegradable alternatives.

Illinois governor Pat Quinn hopes that the rest of the nation will follow Illinois’s example. There is a similar bill pending in New York, and legislators are taking action in Minnesota, Ohio, and California as well.

Concerned consumers should avoid purchasing products listing polyethylene or polypropylene among their ingredients.

Water Communication and Policy Research

Kajsa Dalrymple, UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Kajsa Dalrymple,
UI School of Journalism and Mass Communication

A University of Iowa faculty member is conducting a content analysis of how water quality issues are being covered by the media in Iowa.

The findings indicate water utility issues and recreational water uses are the top stories, with little media coverage on research and ways to preserve our water resources.

Dalrymple hopes her communication research leads to policy discussions in the future, starting a conversation about water issues with legislatures, land management communities, farmers, and the general public.

To read the full profile, click here.

On the Radio: Railway plans stalled

Photo by elviskennedy, Flickr.
Photo by elviskennedy, Flickr.

Listen to this week’s radio segment here or read the transcript below. This week’s segment discusses the uncertain future of a proposed passenger train that would connect Chicago to Omaha.

A proposed passenger train that would connect Chicago to Omaha would create jobs, aid transportation and help the environment in Iowa.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Continue reading

MidAmerican reviewing nuclear options

An interior view of MidAmerican’s Walter Scott Energy Center near Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The Iowa Legislature adjourned last week, but did not take action on a bill that would create a regulatory structure for MidAmerican Energy’s proposed nuclear power plant. Officials at the utility said they are reviewing their options.

“We are evaluating future options, and at this time it’s premature to speak in detail about those plans,” said Tina Potthoff, media relations manager for MidAmerican Energy. She said the company likely will hold internal meetings to decide how to proceed.”

MidAmerican has been exploring new technology in the field of nuclear power, including small modular units that, while less expensive than larger reactors, also produce less energy. The utility estimates that the new nuclear facility will cost between $1 billion and $2 billion.

For more information, read the full article at The Gazette.

Update on the lead shot debate

Photo by Engleking's, Flickr

In early November, the Iowa Environmental Focus aired a radio segment on the debate over the use of lead shot. Many hunters use lead pellets because they are cheap and effective. Environmental advocates argue against lead shot primarily because animals ingest these lead pellet, which can cause death.

This past year, hunters were able to use lead shot during the dove hunting season despite numerous attempts to ban its use.

The Des Moines Register just released an article with an update on the use of lead shot during the forthcoming dove hunting season. According to the article, the lead shot ban will be enacted unless lawmakers make a change before the Legislature adjourns this spring.

Read the full article here.

Public welcome to Des Moines for Environmental Lobby Day

Photo by Dev Librarian, Flickr

Iowa environmental organizations are hosting a public reception this Thursday, Feb. 3 at the State Capitol.

The event will take place on the first floor rotunda from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Vistors can view member organization exhibits and talk with legislators about Iowa’s most pressing environmental issues. Current legislative priorities will be highlighted at an 11 a.m. press conference. Talking Points and Iowa Environmental Council staff will also be available to provide lobbying guidance and to speak to groups who come to participate.

Call Lynn Laws at (515) 244-1194 ext. 210 or e-mail her at for more information on Environmental Lobby Day.