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Environment & Climate Change

Obama signs bill banning microbeads in personal care products

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Plastic microbeads  found in soaps, facial scrubs, cosmetics and toothpaste will be phased out starting in 2017 under bipartisan legislation signed by President Barack Obama yesterday. 

The legislation was co-sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich, and Rep. Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey. It is intended to protect the nation's waterways.

"Microbeads may be tiny plastic – but they are big-time pollution, especially for our Great Lakes," said Upton.

"On their own, microbeads are nearly invisible, but once they've been flushed down the drain is where the trouble begins," Upton added.

Joel Brammeier, president and CEO of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, praised the new law and said microbeads pollute the water and contaminate the food chain. 

"Keeping this debris out of the water, making sure that we're not passing along problems to fish and wildlife and eventually people, is critical to the idea of Michigan as a Great Lakes state," said Brammeier.

According to Brammaier, microbeads are not removed by wastewater treatments after they are rinsed down the drain.

The new law, called the "Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015," will prohibit the manufacture of products containing plastic microbeads as of July 1, 2017, and will phase out sales of the products over the following two years.