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Pallone Bill to Ban Microbeads in Cosmetics Passes House

December 7, 2015
Press Release

Legislation would Help Keep Plastic out of Nation’s Waterways

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ-06), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, announced that the House of Representatives unanimously passed his bill to protect U.S. waterways from synthetic plastic microbeads.  The Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015, which he introduced earlier this year with Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI-06), would prohibit the manufacture and sale of personal care products that contain microbeads.  These small bits of plastic, used as exfoliants in personal care products like face wash, soap, and toothpaste, can slip through water treatment systems after they are washed down the drain.  As a result, these microbeads often end up in local streams, rivers and larger bodies of water.  The bill would ban the manufacturing of personal care products containing plastic microbeads effective July 1, 2017.

“Most people who buy personal care products that contain microbeads are unaware that these tiny bits of plastic seep into waterways, threatening the environment and ultimately our health.  Our bill is a bipartisan and commonsense solution,” said Congressman Pallone.  “It is our responsibility to implement a nationwide ban on plastic microbeads, and spur a transition to non-synthetic alternatives.  House passage is an important step towards putting a stop to this unnecessary plastic pollution, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to see this much-needed legislation become law.”

“These microbeads are tiny plastic, but big time pollution,” said Congressman 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.”

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 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.

Earlier this year, New Jersey passed a state law to ban the sale of cosmetics containing microbeads.