CHICAGO (CBS) — Environmentalists, lawmakers and representatives of the cosmetics industry met at the Shedd Aquarium on Wednesday day to talk about an agreement to stop the use of “microbeads” in personal care products in Illinois.
WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports microbeads can be found in all sorts of products, like facial cleansers and toothpaste, and end up in waterways like the Great Lakes.
“The problem is that they are so tiny that they don’t get filtered out,” said state Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), who has sponsored a measure to phase out microbeads in products sold and manufactured in Illinois by 2018.
The Illinois Senate voted 54-0 earlier this month to approve the ban, sending the measure to the House for consideration.
Several manufacturers of personal care products – including L’Loreal, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, and Colgate-Palmolive – have agreed to a phase-out of microbeads, but Jared Teutsch, water policy advocate for the Alliance for the Great Lakes said there’s still a need for legislation to ban them.
“There’s always going to be a bad actor out there,” he said.
Critics have said microbeads that enter waterways can attract toxins before they’re eaten by wildlife.
“Microbeads and microplastics can have a significant effect on wildlife,” said Aislinn Gauchay, manager of the Shedd’s Great Lakes and Sustainability programs.
If a product lists polyethylene or polypropylene among its ingredients, it likely contains microbeads.
Teutsch said the movement to ban microbeads has been gaining momentum across the country.
“Right now Indiana, Wisconsin and, I think, Pennsylvania are the three states that haven’t introduced legislation,” he said.
Several natural products are available as alternatives to microbeads to give facial cleansers and other products the abrasive quality used to exfoliate skin and polish teeth.