California Poised to Ban Toxic Microbeads from Cosmetics

Oakland, Calif.  –   The California State Assembly has overwhelmingly adopted a proposal to ban the use of plastic microbeads in cosmetics products because they contaminate oceans, other waterways and seafood.

“California can help set the rest of the country on a course to ban toxic and unnecessary microbeads from consumer goods nationwide,” said Renee Sharp, EWG director of research and the head of the EWG California office. “These tiny pollutants are fouling our waterways and winding up in fish and the rest of the food chain, leaving millions of people exposed.  The good news is, major companies and other states, including New York and Illinois, are working to phase them out.”

The bill, AB1699, authored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, passed by a vote of 45-10.  It now moves to the California State Senate.

Microbeads, used primarily as an abrasive in such products as toothpaste, soap and facial scrubs, collect toxic chemicals and pesticides. They are tiny plastic beads about the size of a grain of salt.  They do not break down in the environment and have been found at alarmingly high levels in the Great Lakes, in the Pacific Ocean and other waterways.

A number of the world’s largest personal care and cosmetics companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Unilever and L’Oréal, have pledged to remove microbeads from their products over the next few years. 

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