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Dec 23

Congress bans microbeads in cosmetic products

Size, shape and colour variations of microbeads. A standard paperclip is shown for size comparison. (Microscope 65x magnification Photo: Plastic Free Seas)

Size, shape and colour variations of microbeads. A standard paperclip is shown for size comparison. (Microscope 65x magnification Photo: Plastic Free Seas)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress took action last week to ban microbeads from cosmetic products, tiny particles that can threaten the environment and pose dangers to delicate ecosystems.

The Senate passed the The Microbead Free Waters Act (H. R. 1321), to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to prohibit the manufacture and delivery into interstate commerce of rinse-off cosmetics containing intentionally-added plastic microbes. The term ‘plastic microbead’ means any solid plastic particle that is less than five millimeters in size and is intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse the human body; also includes inclusion in toothpaste.

The ban goes into affect by July 1, 2018.

“Our oceans have been choking on these tiny plastic microbeads for way too long,” Miyoko Sakashita, oceans program director with the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “This is a huge and important step toward protecting fish, birds and other ocean wildlife hurt by plastic pollution. I applaud the Senate for following California’s lead and voting to eliminate this pointless and harmful source of plastic pollution.”

Roughly a quarter of the fish sampled from fish markets in California and Indonesia contained human-made debris — plastic or fibrous material — in their guts, according to a study from the University of California, Davis, and Hasanuddin University in Indonesia. The study, published in September of this year in the journal Scientific Reports, is one of the first to directly link plastic and human-made debris to the fish on consumers’ dinner plates.

The president is expected to sign the bill.

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