Why States Are Worried About Your Face Wash

Plastic 'microbeads' prompt environmental concern

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted May 7, 2014 2:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – Your face wash may be bad for the environment, and several states are trying to do something about it. The problem is "microbeads," minuscule pieces of plastic about the size of Abe Lincoln's eye on a penny, Time reports. They're found in all kinds of products from the likes of Clean & Clear and Olay, and after traveling down the drain, they land in lakes and oceans. There, experts say, they may collect toxins before they're eaten by fish—and end up in the food chain. "Big fish eat little fish; eventually the fish is on your dinner plate," a scientist tells CBS News.

Researchers haven't yet determined for sure whether microbeads cause environmental harm. Still, New York, Illinois, California, Ohio, and Minnesota are debating bills to ban the beads. "The fundamental question is going to be: Do we wait to take this material out until we prove that this microbead causes harm?" asks a marine ecologist. If laws are passed against the beads—the New York State Assembly this week voted 108-0 to ban them, Plastics News reports—companies may not put up much of a fight. Johnson & Johnson already plans to get rid of microbeads by 2017, and Procter & Gamble is also moving against the beads.

Microbeads in face washes are a cause of concern in several states.
Microbeads in face washes are a cause of concern in several states.   (Shutterstock)
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