From toothpaste to soap, common products we use every day are being linked to harmful pollution in the Great Lakes.
A new bill in the Illinois legislature could make some personal care products illegal because they contain microbeads.
Microbeads are tiny sand-like grains of plastic used in personal care products like shampoos, facial cleansers and soaps.
The problem is they get washed down the drain and they’re too small to get filtered out by water treatment plants. “They’re also so small that fish can ingest them and they can collect toxins as well,” says State Senator Heather Steans, 7th District.
Steans says lawmakers have been able to work with environmental groups and the personal products industry to negotiate the legislation.
The bill aims to phase out and eliminate the manufacture and use of microbeads.
It has already passed the Senate and is expected to pass in the Illinois House, likely making Illinois the first state in the country to ban microbeads.
Testing shows the presence of microbeads in the Great Lakes.
The new legislation enlisted the support of the Personal Care Products Council, the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois and other industry groups.
All have pledged to halt the manufacture of plastic microbeads by the end of 2017 and ban distribution in Illinois by 2018.
The agreement is a victory for environmental groups which have long advocated for a ban of microbeads.
The hope is that other states and communities around the Great Lakes will adopt similar legislation.