Microbeads prohibited in new federal law

By | January 4, 2016 7:21 am

Last Updated: January 4, 2016 at 7:53 am

A bill banning the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetic products was signed into law on Dec. 28, with the key ingredient in many facial scrubs and toothpastes being phased out over the next two years.

An official statement from the United States Press Secretary was released on Dec. 28 that states, “On Monday, Dec. 28, 2015, the President signed into law HR 1321, “The Microbead Free Waters Act of 2015,” which prohibits the manufacture and introduction into interstate commerce of rinse-off cosmetics containing intentionally-added plastic microbeads.”

A microbead is defined as a solid plastic particle that is less than five millimeters in size that is intended to be used to exfoliate or cleanse the human body. They are found in many facial scrubs and some toothpastes.

The manufacture of microbeads must cease by July 1, 2017. The sale of products containing microbeads must cease by July 1, 2018.

The new law follows a report by American Chemical Society, which found that microplastic has been reported in every major open ocean and many freshwater lakes and rivers.

Because of its small size, the report states that it is bioavailable to thousands of species, though large-scale cleanup is nearly impossible.

The report states that the best solution is in source reduction, and the microbeads in cosmetic cleansers has been targeted as the best method of source reduction, as they are designed to be discarded down drains where they are littered into the environment through sewage sludge.

According to the report, the United States emits enough microbeads to cover over 300 tennis courts daily, if placed side by side.

The long-term effects on aquatic habitats is not known at this time.

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