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House Unanimously Acts to Stop Pesky Microbead Problem

Dec 7, 2015
Press Release
Bipartisan Bill to Ban Synthetic Exfoliants will Reduce Plastic Pollution, Protect Waterways

WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. House of Representatives today unanimously approved the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which was introduced by Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) earlier this year. The bipartisan legislation would begin the phase out of plastic microbeads from personal care products on July 1, 2017. 
MICROBEADS EXPLAINED: Microbeads are tiny bits of plastic, often used as exfoliants in personal care products like face wash and toothpaste that can slip through water treatment systems after they are washed down the drain and make their way through water filtration systems. As a result, these microbeads often end up in our local streams, rivers, and larger bodies of water.
WHY IT MATTERS: Scientists have found evidence of microbeads in numerous bodies of water in the United States, including increasingly in the Great Lakes, the world’s largest source of freshwater. In addition to contributing to the buildup of plastic pollution in waterways, microbeads can often be mistaken by fish and other organisms as food. If consumed by fish, the chemicals found in synthetic plastic microbeads can then be passed on to other wildlife and humans. The legislation also will preempt state and local laws related to plastic microbeads in rinse off cosmetics.

“These microbeads are tiny plastic, but big time pollution,” said Chairman Upton. “As someone who grew up on Lake Michigan and represents a large chunk of Michigan coastline, I understand firsthand how important it is to maintain the beauty and integrity of our Great Lakes. They may be smaller than a pinhead, but once they’ve been flushed down the drain is where the problem starts. I thank Ranking Member Frank Pallone for helping fight the army of pesky microbeads that is growing by the day in our waters.” 
Ranking Member Pallone added, “These tiny bits of plastic seep into waterways, threatening the environment and, ultimately, our health.  We know our country’s waterways do not always respect state boundaries, so our bipartisan bill is a commonsense and national solution to this problem. By banning plastic microbeads in personal care products, we are taking one more step towards a cleaner and healthier environment in America. I want to thank Chairman Upton for working with me to move this legislation through the House, and I look forward to continuing to work with my Senate colleagues to see this much-needed legislation become law.”