December 30, 2015
Personal hygiene products, including soaps, shower gels and toothpaste, often contain tiny plastic microbeads, which are meant to aid in exfoliation but are also a hazard to our natural waterways and marine life.
The issue will soon be resolved, as a new federal law will ban the manufacture of products containing microbeads by July 2017. (A New Jersey law enacted earlier this year had banned the beads by 2018, but the federal law now overrides that.)
According to Consumerist, on Monday, President Barack Obama signed into law the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which bans the manufacture of all personal hygiene products infused with microbeads, defined as any solid plastic particle less than 5 millimeters in size and meant for exfoliation, beginning on July 1, 2017.
The bill also calls for a sales bans of hygiene products that include microbeads by 2019.
As a report by the New York Environmental Protection Bureau explains, microbeads travel down our drains to wastewater treatment plants and into our waterways, where they act as tiny sponges that suck up toxic chemical pollutants and then are ingested by marine wildlife and, later, by humans.
Read more on the ban at Consumerist.