Lawmakers Want To Change How You Wash Your Face And Brush Your Teeth

Lawmakers around the country are looking to tell popular soap, scrub and even toothpaste manufacturers to slough off.

Commonly found in popular personal health care products, tiny plastic particles known as microbeads have triggered concerns over contamination, with a growing number of states looking to ban the bead.

Just last week, Illinois moved one step closer to becoming the first state to enact a microbead ban. The state Senate unanimously approved legislation that would end the production and manufacture of microbeads by 2017, with a state-wide ban on selling products containing microbeads by 2018.

States like California, Minnesota, New York and Ohio are also considering legislation to ban microbeads from store shelves.

The plastic pellets -- which are not biodegradable -- are so small they slip through sewer and water treatment filters and end up in the water supply, where environmental advocates say they can absorb toxins and harm fish and other wildlife.

Tests have already shown the presence of microbeads in the Great Lakes, the Los Angeles River and waterways in the New York City region.

“Microbeads and microplastics can have a significant effect on wildlife,” Aislinn Gauchay, manager of the Shedd Aquarium's Great Lakes and Sustainability programs, told CBS Chicago.

The Santa Monica-based 5 Gyres Institute, which studies marine plastic debris and advocates for microbead bans, analyzed different facial cleansers and found a single container can contain more than 300,000 microbeads.

microplasticsPhoto courtesy 5 Gyres.

Microbead-banning legislation currently under consideration in New York and California has a more aggressive timeline for phasing out the particles, which some in the personal care products industry have argued is unrealistic. Though Illinois' longer timeline comes as a dismay to environmentalists, the Personal Care Products Council is more receptive.

The Illinois Senate's bill now moves on the House, where it has the support of industry groups like the PCCC and advocates like the Alliance for the Great Lakes, according to Al Jazeera America.

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