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article imageU.S. House bans microbeads in personal care products by 2019

By Megan Hamilton     Dec 10, 2015 in Environment
Washington - Several states have passed legislation to put and end to the use of tiny microbeads in beauty products, but now the rest of the nation is catching up. It's all part of an effort to keep the tiny plastic beads out of the ocean and our seafood.
Earlier this week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure to ban the use of the products, Consumerist reports.
The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 phases out the use of microbeads in consumer products over the next several years. The House passed the legislation on Monday via voice vote, and that indicates the bill had widespread support within the legislature.
The bill requires that the first step — a ban on manufacturing products with the beads — would begin on July 1, 2017, and it would be followed up by product-specific manufacturing and bans on sales in 2018 and 2019.
The bill still has to be approved by the Senate, however, The Verge reports.
Several states, including California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Wisconsin have already enacted legislation restricting microbeads, and earlier this year passed laws that aim to halt production of the tiny plastic beads on January 1, 2018. The sale of products containing microbeads would be banned as of 2020.
In 2013, Illinois was the first state to pass this legislation, after research showed that the Great Lakes were being contaminated with the tiny beads from personal care products. Scientists noted that Lake Ontario held an estimated 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometer. More recent research shows that 8 trillion microbeads flow every day into bodies of water in the U.S.
Ohio has most of Lake Erie's shoreline and is also considering microbead legislation, The Guardian reports. Michigan is also considering legislation.
When the microbeads are washed down the drain, they wind up in the ocean. These tiny bits of plastic add to the vast quantity of plastic that's now floating in the world's oceans, and a recent study found that as much as 90 percent of the world's seabirds have pieces of plastic in their guts.
In an unusual show of solidarity between Democrats and Republicans, the bill was co-sponsored by Fred Upton (R-MI) and Frank Pallone (D-MI), The Verge reports.
"These microbeads are tiny plastic, but make for big-time pollution," Upton said when he introduced the legislation.
"Most people buying these everyday products are unaware of the damaging effects they are having on the environment," Pallone said. "However, they are being washed down the drain and reaching our waterways, so we must make sure that these soaps and toothpastes don't contain synthetic plastic that will ultimately contaminate our environment."
Products to avoid
If you wish to avoid buying products that contain these harmful plastics, check the labels, GMJ Associates report. Some products actually list microbeads in their ingredients; others couch them in fancier terms.
Here's what to look for:
• Nylon
• Polyethylene (PE)
• Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
OnePercentForThePlanet has a list of products that contain microbeads.
Fortunately several major manufacturers, like Procter & Gamble, Unilver, and Colgate-Palmolive, plan to phase out the use of microbeads, Consumerist reports. In February 2014, L'Oréal said it also planned to phase plastic microbeads out of their Biotherm products and would also do this with its' Body Shop products in 2015. It's expect that all of the company's products will be free of microbeads by 2017.
More about microbeads, Plastic, US House of Representatives, personal care products, voice vote
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