Maine lawmakers banned the tiny plastic particles in March.
From staff and wire services
Portland Press Herald news story
A new study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, calls for a total ban of products made with microbeads.
Microbeads, which are used to add scrubbing action to products such as toothpaste and face wash, are being studied as a pollutant. According to the report, published in the magazine’s Sept. 15 issue, up to 8 trillion of these plastic pieces enter aquatic habitats in the United States every day, threatening wildlife. Another 800 trillion or so microbeads end up in the sludgy runoff from sewage plants, which can go on to pollute waterways as well, according to the study.
Maine lawmakers voted to ban synthetic microbeads in personal care products in March. The legislation prohibits manufacturers in Maine from using microbeads in products beginning Dec. 31, 2017, and ban stores from accepting products containing microbeads for sale one year later. A ban on over-the-counter drugs containing microbeads would kick in on Dec. 31, 2019.
The tiny beads are often undetectable in products such as toothpaste where they’re barely visible.
“We’re facing a plastic crisis and don’t even know it,” co-author Stephanie Green of Oregon State University said in a statement.
Furthermore, the researchers say, many of the bans put in place by individual states aren’t comprehensive enough. They tend to contain loopholes allowing for “biodegradable” plastics – many of which only degrade slightly before settling in oceans and rivers.
It acknowledges several companies such as Unilever, The Body Shop, IKEA,Target Corp., L’Oreal, Colgate/Palmolive, Procter & Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson pledged to stop using microbeads in their “rinse-off personal care products.” But there are applications such as cosmetics, deodorants, lotions, nail polish, and cleaners for microbeads that go down the drain but are not considered “personal care” or “rinse-off products,” the study says.
“The probability of risk from microbead pollution is high while the solution to this problem is simple,” the study concludes. “Banning microbeads from products that enter wastewater will ultimately protect water quality, wildlife and resources used by people.”