News Feature | March 27, 2015

Microbeads Fight Goes To Washington

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Congress is jumping into the fight to ban plastics in toothpaste and face scrubs, already the subject of state-level laws because they are harmful to the water supply.

New York and Illinois already have bans on microbeads in place, the Associated Press reported. Microbeads are the tiny plastic bits used in face scrubs, toothpaste and other personal care products.

Now, the federal government is joining the effort. A bipartisan bill introduced in March would phase out microbeads. GOP Rep. Fred Upton, the powerful leader of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced the bill with Rep. Frank Pallone, D-NJ, TCE Today reported.The legislation would ban the sale or distribution of products that contain microbeads starting in 2018.

“This common sense, bipartisan legislation is a win-win for consumers and our Great Lakes ecosystem,” Upton said in a statement. “As someone who grew up on Lake Michigan and represents a large chunk of Michigan coastline, I understand firsthand how important it is to maintain the beauty and integrity of our Great Lakes. I will not stand for any actions that put our beloved Great Lakes in jeopardy. I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to reduce this harmful pollutant from entering our waterways, our fish, and ultimately us.”

Meanwhile, an increasing number of states are working to ban microbeads.

In March, the Indiana legislature passed a ban on microbeads, according to WBAA. Also in March, the Wisconsin Senate passed legislation banning microbeads, the AP reported.

Connecticut is showing interest in banning microbeads, as well. "Some Connecticut lawmakers would like to follow the lead of several other states that have already banned the sale of products containing microbeads," the Hartford Courant reported.

Widespread concern about the dangers of microbeads is relatively new. "Discovered only recently, scientists say they’re showing up inside fish that are caught for human consumption," the Associated Press previously reported.

For more on policy and politics, check out Water Online's Regulations & Legislation Solution Center.