The plastic microbeads found in many facewash, toothpaste, and other personal-care products are making a real mess. The exfoliating beads wash down bathroom drains, into sewers, through water treatment plants, into lakes and oceans, and into the food chain. Underwater layers of microbeads are particularly prevalent in the Great Lakes, which helps explain why New York state lawmakers moved to ban the beads this past winter, prompting Californian politicians to follow suit.
But New York and California have been bested in the race to pinch out the microbead problem by Illinois, which rings the southwestern portion of Lake Michigan. The Chicago Tribune reports:
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation Sunday banning the manufacture and sale of personal care products containing synthetic plastic microbeads.
“Banning microbeads will help ensure clean waters across Illinois and set an example for our nation to follow,” Quinn said. “Lake Michigan and the many rivers and lakes across our state are among our most important natural resources. We must do everything necessary to safeguard them.”
The new law bans the manufacture of personal care products containing microbeads by the end of 2017, the sale of personal care products and the manufacture of over the counter drugs by the end of 2018, and the sale of over the counter drugs by the end of 2019.
Similar bills in New York and California are still pending, and lawmakers in Minnesota and Ohio have introduced versions as well.