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Microbead ban: Illinois pioneers ban as plastic beads head to nation's waterways

Microbead ban in Illinois, state pioneers ban on plastic beads in soap and cosmetics.
Microbead ban in Illinois, state pioneers ban on plastic beads in soap and cosmetics.
Wikimedia Commons

Illinois has paved the way by being the first state to ban microbeads, which are found in soaps, cleansers and cosmetics. The tiny beads, which are added to products to exfoliate the skin, will play havoc with the environment after they are allowed to build up over years from their use, according to News Max on June 10.

Governor Pat Quinn signed the legislation into law on Sunday giving the manufacturers a timeline to follow with this ban. The legislature bans the manufacturing of microbeads by 2018 and sales of the products by 2019 in Illinois, with other states hot on the trail with their own legislation in the works.

While the microbeads aren't posing a big problem today, the buildup of these little plastic beads will pollute the water with toxins in years to come. Pat Quinn demonstrated pride representing the first state to ban these plastic beads saying, "Banning microbeads will help ensure clean waters across Illinois and set an example for our nation to follow," according to MSN Money.

As of today there are four states considering the ban on these beads, which include New York and California. Consumers who enjoy the beads for the deep scrubbing they provide won't have to stock up to make sure that they have a lifetime supply of the product. The cosmetic companies are already working on alternatives for the plastic beads. So far that includes things that come from nature like seeds and nuts.

Some of the manufacturers of the products that contain these beads have opposed this ban from the start, while others had been working on natural replacements for some time now with the environment in mind. The experts say that the microbeads can be found "by the millions across Lake Michigan" as they often make their way out of the treatment facilities and back into the rivers and lakes. When in Lake Michigan these microbeads can harm the fish and aquatic animals as the beads "absorb toxic substances."

Stay clear of products that contain polyethylene and polypropylene in the ingredients if you want to do your part in keeping the microbeads out of the environment before the ban is enforced.

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