Citing environmental concerns, Illinois has become the first state to ban microbeads, those tiny round balls of plastic found in face cleansers and soaps.
For years, environmentalists have pointed out that when microbeads wash down the drain, they're usually missed by filtration systems—meaning they end up in waterways, where they become toxic and harm wildlife. Preliminary studies in Lake Michigan alone have turned up millions of microbeads.
"Banning microbeads will help ensure clean water across Illinois and will set an example for our nation to follow," Illinois governor Pat Quinn said in a press release.
The ban will prohibit the sale and production of hand soaps, facial scrubs, or other personal care products with microbeads, and will go into effect in stages, starting in 2017 with the manufacturing ban. Four other states, including New York and California, are considering similar bills.
Both Johnson & Johnson and Unilever have already posted updates on their sites about how they plan to phase out microbeads, and Olay affirmed that it also plans to take action. “Nothing is more important to Olay than the safety of the people who use our products and the environment in which we all live," says a Procter & Gamble spokesperson. "We are discontinuing our limited use of microbeads as scrub materials in personal care products, and we have decided not to introduce plastic microbeads into any new product category.”
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