products containing microbeads
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Could America’s bathroom cabinets finally be cleansed of tiny ecosystem-disrupting plastic beads?

Ecologists, activists, and lawmakers in a number of states have grown increasingly alarmed at exfoliating plastic microbeads in products such as face wash, toothpaste, and shampoo, which wash down drains and end up in lakes, rivers, and oceans. Earlier this month, Illinois became the first state to outlaw the manufacture and sale of grooming products containing the microbeads, starting in 2017.

Now microbead worries have simmered up to Congress. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) on Wednesday introduced a bead-banning bill. From his press release:

The bill would ban the sale or distribution of cosmetics products containing plastic microbeads effective January 1, 2018.

“These tiny plastic particles that are polluting our environment are found in products specifically designed to be washed down shower drains,” said Pallone. “And many people buying these products are unaware of their damaging effects. If we know that these products will eventually reach our waterways, we must make sure that they don’t contain synthetic plastic that does not biodegrade and ultimately pollute our waterways. We have a responsibility to put a stop to this unnecessary plastic pollution.”

The bill is pretty much DOA in the Republican-controlled House. But a solution to the microbead problem could still be in the offing. As the AP notes, the companies that produce these polluting products actually cooperated with Illinois lawmakers in drafting the state’s recent bill. That’s largely because many of them have already announced plans to stop using the plastic ingredients altogether in the coming years.