Obama Bans Microbeads

tooth paste being squeezed out onto a tooth brush. the tooth paste has red microbeads in the white paste.On January 4, 2016, President Obama signed into law a bill that bans production and sale of microbeads in certain products. This national law comes only a year and a half after Illinois became the first state to ban the manufacture and sale of products containing microbeads in June 2014 (Public Act 098-0638). Microbeads are small bits of plastic added to soaps, creams, and even toothpaste for aesthetics and abrasion. These are the important dates for the “Microbead-Free Water Act of 2015”:

  • July 2017 – manufacture of rinse-off cosmetics containing microbeads is banned
  • July 2018 – manufacture of over-the-counter drugs with microbeads is banned and selling rinse-off cosmetics with microbeads is banned
  • July 2019 – selling over-the-counter drugs with microbeads is banned


Why are microbeads a concern for the environment?


the blue and white microbeads are about the one one-hundreth of the size of a pencil eraser
A size comparison of microbeads to a pencil eraser.

Microbeads are very small bits of plastic typically used for skin exfoliate purposes and then are washed down the drain. Because they are so small (0.0004 to 1.24 millimeters), the microbeads do not get filtered out with the rest of the solid waste at wastewater treatment plants and end up discharged to lakes and streams, eventually ending up in the oceans. To aquatic life, these plastic microbeads look like yummy fish eggs or plankton which they feed on. Needless to say, the aquatic life do not get the same nutrition value when they mistake microbeads for food. In addition, the plastic tends to sorb chemicals from the water which could leach out into the animals when the microbeads are digested creating a high potential for the bioaccumulation of toxins.


good kid's drawing that has the top half that has fish with microbeads and the words "Microbeads make killer soap" and the bottom with clean water and fish with the words "Exfoliate Nautrally" and suggestions of salt papaya oatmeal sugar coffee grounds yogurt baking soda honey pumpkin lemon nut shells











More information: