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House Passes Bill to Ban Microbeads After Pollution Concerns


The U.S. House approved a bill to ban the manufacture and sale of microbeads on Dec. 7.

Microbeads, small plastic particles often found in cosmetics, are passing through water treatment plants and reaching the Great Lakes and polluting them, environmentalists argue.

Environmental groups are concerned pollutants can attach to the microbeads, which can be eaten by fish and wildlife.

“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,” said U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St Joseph.

Upton and Rep. Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, co-sponsored the bill called the Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015 (H.R. 1321). The measure was passed by unanimous voice vote.

The House bill language defines microbeads as “any sold plastic particle” intended for use as an exfoliant less than 5 millimeters in size . The bill would start a ban on making the beads July 1, 2017. Product-specific manufacturing and sales bans in 2018 and 2019.

A companion bill is in the U.S. Senate. It hasn’t gone beyond the health, education, and labor committee since it was referred there in May.

Some states and municipalities have already banned microbeads, and a federal law would supersede local rules.

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House Passes Bill to Ban Microbeads After Pollution Concerns