Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced that President Obama recently signed into law Pallone’s Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015. The legislation will prohibit the manufacture and sale of personal care products that contain plastic microbeads. These small bits of plastic, used as exfoliants in personal care products, like face wash and toothpaste, can slip through water treatment systems after they are washed down the drain. As a result, these microbeads often end up in local streams, rivers and larger bodies of water. The law will ban the manufacturing of personal care products containing plastic microbeads effective July 1, 2017. Pallone introduced the bill earlier this year with Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI-06).
“The President’s signature on this legislation is a major victory for U.S. waterways and the environment,” said Congressman Pallone. “Without the ban, an estimated eight trillion plastic microbeads pollute U.S. waterways each day, threatening the environment and ultimately our health. My bill is a commonsense, bipartisan solution to this little-known but serious problem.”
Scientists have found evidence of microbeads in numerous bodies of water in the United States, including increasingly in the Great Lakes, the world’s largest source of freshwater. In addition to contributing to the buildup of plastic pollution in waterways, microbeads can be mistaken by fish and other organisms as food. If consumed by fish, the chemicals found in synthetic plastic microbeads can then be passed on to other wildlife and humans.