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Montreal teenager starts petition to ban microbeads in Quebec
They’re everywhere: in face wash, toothpaste and cleaning products. Tiny rubber balls called microbeads are supposed to help clean your face, teeth and sink.
But a McGill research team has found the microbeads at the bottom of the St. Lawrence River, where fish and other organisms may be eating them.
Megan Kouri, a grade 11 student at the study in Westmount, needed a topic for her final project. When her mother brought up the McGill team’s findings, the topic piqued Kouri’s interest.
Intrigued, the gifted science student started doing research to learn more about how the tiny plastic beads find their way into the sediment of lakes and rivers.
“It's just shocking because you don't know you're doing damage,” she said. “The fish mistake the beads for fish eggs and eat them and the beads are full of toxins.”
She saw that Illinois and other states in the U.S. are trying to ban the beads as well as Ontario, and figured Quebec should follow suit.
Kouri contacted a few MNAs for help with a petition to ban the beads in Quebec, and they all turned her down. That’s when she reached out to Maryse Gaudreault, an MNA and one of the vice presidents of the National Assembly who she had recently met at an event at the school. It was Gaudreault who suggested that she create the petition, so she decided to contact her for help.
“I emailed her and within days I got word back from her office saying we're going to do the petition for you, we're going to create it and I was like 'Oh my God,'” she said.
The official petition to ban microbeads from cosmetic products is now posted on the National Assembly's website. So far, more than a hundred people have signed it, but Kouri knows she'll need a lot more than that to bring a ban closer to reality.
“This is the hard part, to get signatures because I only have until Aug. 6 to collect signatures. That's when the petition ends,” she said.
Megan's hard work has been a source of pride for her teacher and the school.
“Megan's project is very much uniquely Megan. She's a girl who's socially conscious, yet at the same time she's an extremely gifted science student and so this allowed her to marry those two things,” said Patricia Briand, director of senior school at The Study.
Kouri says whatever the outcome, she feels pride in what she's already achieved.
“I shared [the petition] on my Facebook and a lot of girls messaged me saying ‘Wow, I had no idea. I’m signing your petition.’ I just hope that even if I can’t get the petition passed, I can lesat least raise awareness … and have less people buying microbead products,” she said.