The use and production of microbeads is now outlawed in the U.S.
On Dec. 25, 2015, President Barack Obama signed a bipartisan bill into law to phase out the sale and production of microbeads, which are commonly used in a variety of cosmetic and hygiene products.
The initiative, co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan and Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone from New Jersey, was passed by the Senate on Dec. 18 and by the House in early December.
“It’s a banner day for Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes -- we now have a bipartisan law on the books to cleanse dirty microbeads from all our nation’s waters,” stated Upton, reported Detroit News. “Microbeads may be tiny plastic, but they are wreaking big time havoc in our waters. We came together, Republicans and Democrats, and got the job done.”
“At a time when gaining widespread bipartisan consensus is anything but easy, I am especially glad my bill to cut down on unnecessary pollution and protect our waterways is finally law,” said Pallone, the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The bill, deemed The Microbead-Free Waters Act, bans the production of microbeads beginning July 2017. A ban on sales of cosmetics containing microbeads and on manufacturing over-the-counter drugs containing the potential pollutant will start in July 2018, and a ban on sales of over-the-counter drugs with microbeads would start the following July.
Research released by Environmental Science and Technology concluded that microbeads increase the amount of microplastic pollution in the U.S. Approximately 808 trillion microbeads are discarded in American households daily due to household use, and an estimated 8 trillion microbeads may be released into waterways. As microbeads absorb chemical toxins in aquatic habitats, the pollutants may be transferred to animals and cause tiny cuts in the flesh of wildlife, inflammation and cell death.
“Microbeads is a clear issue,” said Dan Wyant, director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. “It's a clear threat. And there's a clear, simple answer, and we support the phaseout of microbeads and a federal approach.”