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Plastic micro-beads to be phased out here

Monday, Jun 9, 2014

* AP

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a law he says makes Illinois the first state nationwide to ban products containing so-called microbeads.

Synthetic plastic microbeads are found in soaps and cosmetics and billed as a way to exfoliate.

* The little beads were apparently on their way out anyway

Johnson & Johnson, Unilever and L’Oreal already have information on their websites explaining their plans for gradually eliminating the scrub beads from their products and testing for natural alternatives, like ground seeds or nuts.

Unilever says on its website that it plans to complete its phaseout of microbeads globally by 2015.

Until the products are off the shelves, consumers who don’t wish to use products with the plastic bits should watch out for products that list polyethylene and polypropylene in their ingredient lists, according to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, an advocate for protection of the Great Lakes.

* The problems they cause

These tiny plastic particles have been the focus of environmentalists who argue they pose long-term pollution problems because of their small size, particularly in the Great Lakes which contain 20 percent of the world’s freshwater. Microbeads are so small they can pass through water filtration systems and be mistaken as food by fish in the Great Lakes.

The ability of microbeads to soak up toxins in the water has scientists and environmentalists concerned those chemicals will eventually work their way up the food chain where they’ll be ingested by other animals and even humans. Sherri Mason, an associate professor of chemistry at State University in New York, told NPR Lake Ontario contains as much as 1.1 million plastic particles per square kilometer.

* Phase-out schedule

The law would phase out the small plastic beads that are used in some exfoliating body scrubs and whitening toothpastes. Manufacturers will have to stop including the beads in products by 2017, and stores can no longer sell products with them after 2018. The use of the beads in prescription medicines, such as toothpastes or acne washes, will be eliminated in 2019. Consumers can identify products containing the plastic pieces by checking for polyethylene or polypropylene in the ingredients list.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


10 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    If pumice is good enough for me, it is good enough for the rest of you…

    Bet he talks about his action on this more than he will about whatever he does on Chicago pensions.


  2. - siriusly - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 2:48 pm:

    I think this is one example of something where Illinois is first and we should all be very proud.

    But the implementation is too slow. If micro plastic beads are killing great lakes fish populations, and they are, why allow them for 2 more years?


  3. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 3:22 pm:

    OneMan, you brush your teeth with pumice lol?


  4. - A guy... - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 3:29 pm:

    Explains the Exfoliated Fish Fry in Door County.


  5. - OneMan - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 3:31 pm:

    Arthur Andersen — Just discovered they put that stuff in toothpaste. Wow…

    Then again my lava toothpaste does get them clean and smooth…


  6. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 4:01 pm:

    Between this and the Asian carp, “I’m gonna have the Fish Frenzy.”


  7. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 5:56 pm:

    Anyone else up for some Lake Michigan sushi? No?


  8. - Mama - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 9:07 pm:

    ==why allow them for 2 more years?== The companies need two years to find another chemical to make our teeth whiter and our face & body softer. Now that I know better - - I will not eat, wash or brush my teeth with it. It is in the water, period. Which means it is already in your food and drinks. The whole country uses this stuff. Therefore, it is a much larger problem than the Great Lakes.


  9. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 7:45 am:

    Ban it.
    No two years delay.
    Or it doesn’t appear to be a real concern.
    You make news by having it take effect now.

    The way the law is being implemented, makes it a business news concern. Taking it off the shelves ASAP, puts it on the front page and on the evening news - between the old people commercials for catheters and reverse mortgages.


  10. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 10:02 am:

    Crushed walnut shells are used extensively in the sand blasting world. So many other biodegradable substances could have been used. Why plastic?


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