The sale of products that contain the plastic beads, which are added to aid exfoliation and abrasion, will be prohibited if proposed legislation, introduced today on behalf of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, is passed.
Too small to be sifted out at sewage treatment plants, the tiny beads end up in the ocean where the plastic, which does not biodegrade, becomes a persistent pollutant ingested by wildlife and toxic to sea organisms.
New York could be the first state to outlaw tiny plastic beads used in cosmetic and beauty products like facial scrubs and toothpastes, if lawmakers in Albany get their way
There are also high concentrations along the New York shores of Lake Erie, and they have been found in the Los Angeles River and in the Pacific Ocean as well.
'[This will] stop the flow of plastic from ill-designed beauty products into our vital waters'
Coated with toxins like PCBs, the beads are often eaten by fish and other marine life.
In 2012 scientists from Wageningen University in the Netherlands showed that plastic nanoparticles have an adverse effect on sea organisms such as mussels. And now scientists suggest that those toxins could be working their way back up the food chain to humans.
The beads, hundreds of thousands of which can be found in one beauty product bottle alone, slip through wastewater treatment plants after being washed down bathroom drains
Too small to be sifted out at sewage treatment plants, the tiny beads end up in the ocean where the plastic, which does not biodegrade, becomes a persistent pollutant ingested by wildlife and toxic to sea organisms
While some manufacturers, including Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson, have already agreed to phase out the use of plastic beads, and others, such as Burt’s Bees, already use nonplastic alternatives like powdered pecan shells or coconut husk, plastic is far more cost effective; there are thousands of products around the world that included the beads.
Previously, consumers were left to take action themselves. An app, Beat the Micro Bead, was created to assist with shopping. It lets iPhone users scan product bar codes to see whether microbeads are among the ingredients.
But now lawmakers are taking on the challenge in the fight against plastic pollution in oceans, lakes and rivers.
Robert Sweeney, chairman of the Assembly’s environmental conservation committee, told the New York Times: 'When people learn more about this issue, they will be unwilling to sacrifice water quality just to continue to use products with plastic microbeads.'